Thomas Mayo – ChangeMaker Chat – Voice To Parliament
Australia is in the middle of a national conversation that could transform our relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. But how much do you know about the long story that sits behind the Voice to Parliament referendum?
Thomas Mayo is a Kaurareg Aboriginal and Kalkalgal, Erubamle Torres Strait Islander man, born on Larrakia country in Darwin. He shares with us his journey into union activism and Indigenous struggle. This chat explores what it was like to be part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the community movement following it. He talks about the power and importance of the Federal Labor Government’s commitment to a national referendum to change the Australian Constitution and create a Voice to Parliament in late 2023.
Thomas has written five books, and you can find out about them here. His latest book released in May 2023 with Kerry O’Brien called “The Voice to Parliament Handbook” is available via all major book distributors (see here). Thomas is on tour talking about the book and the dates and tickets can be found here.
There are lots of organisations campaigning for a yes vote, including:
- https://yes23.com.au/ (space to volunteer)
- https://togetheryes.com.au/ (supporting kitchen table conversations)
- https://ulurustatement.org/training/#/ – a learning platform about the voice and the Uluru Statement from the Heart
The Voice is a produce of a powerful collaborative process led by and for Indigenous Australians that culminated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART
We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of theAustralian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs.
This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.
This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’,and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.
How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?
With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.
Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.
These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.
We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk into worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.
We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.
Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.
We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.
In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.
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