** PLEASE NOTE: Due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, this event is regrettably cancelled. **

The Uluru Statement and Related Issues

Art Gallery Lecture Theatre
South Bank, Brisbane
10.30am-3.00pm, Saturday 20 June

SOFiA exists to help its members explore important issues of life and meaning. For Australians, can there be issues any more important than those relating to Indigenous Peoples?

The Uluru Statement from the Heart was developed by delegates to the 2017 First Nations National Constitutional Convention and released in May of that year.  It calls for:

            …the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

                …constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country.

And it asserts that sovereignty:

…has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

It concludes with an invitation:

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

Since its release, it has been met with a wide range of responses, both positive and negative, by governments, academics, non-government organizations and members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The movement to acknowledge in the Constitution the original Indigenous ownership of Australia has taken decades to reach its present stage. The outcomes will impact on the lives of all Australians, present and future.

The SOFiA Conference

The SOFiA conference is one of many events underway across the country in which groups can discuss the Statement and contribute to the pursuit of its goals.

The morning will be devoted to the constitution.

The afternoon will explore related matters of current interest.

Morning Keynote Presentation: Exploring the Uluru Statement from the Heart


1          What is meant by the three elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart?

  • Voice to Parliament
  • `Makarrata’: Agreement between the Australian government and Indigenous people
  • Truth-telling

2          What do Indigenous people hope the Statement will achieve?

3          What problems in getting agreement are likely to arise, whether from Indigenous or non-Indigenous Australians?

The session will conclude with a time for questions.

Afternoon Panel Session

Guest speakers will open up topics for discussion, for example:

  1. As we emerge from devastating bush fires and drought, what are the lessons to be learnt from Aboriginal people’s successful stewardship of the land over millennia?
  2. How can we resolve the long-standing conundrum that, although many non-Aboriginal Australians agree that urgent measures are needed to overcome the difficulties brought by colonization, they disagree over the form these measures should take?
  3. How have the First Nations of Australia been affected by invasion, displacement and 240 years of occupation? What next?
  4. What can contemporary Australia learn from 60,000 years of Indigenous culture that will advantage all Australians in the future?
  5. Who may call themselves Aboriginal; who is the judge?

For further information, contact John Carr (3354 3579) or Rachel Matthews (0408 193 872).

A final note

SOFiA aims to provide a safe space in which ideas may be freely discussed. We, a group of non-Aboriginal Australians, may on occasion unwittingly demonstrate cultural insensitivity. Our conference topic makes this all the more likely. But it is too important a topic for it to be off the table. We ask in advance for a dispensation as we learn.

Some relevant internet Links

The Statement from the Heart: https://www.referendumcouncil.org.au/sites/default/files/2017-05/Uluru_Statement_From_The_Heart_0.PDF

The Information Bulletin from the University of Melbourne: https://law.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/2791940/Uluru-Statement-from-the-Heart-Information-Booklet.pdf

Quick Guide from the Parliament of Australia: https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/library/prspub/5345708/upload_binary/5345708.pdf

Rachel Perkins, the 2019 Boyer Lectures, ‘The End of Silence’: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/boyerlectures/

Saturday Paper Bolt and Pascoe: https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/media/2019/11/30/bolt-pascoe-and-the-culture-wars/15750324009163