Yes 23

Thank you

Federation acknowledges the tireless efforts of our members in the campaign to achieve constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through a voice to parliament. We thank the many volunteers who took on roles in their local communities and participated in union organised events and activities.

The referendum result and the journey to this point reminds us that change can be a long and challenging process and that we can encounter obstacles along the way. As educators, we have a deep responsibility to build the skills, knowledge and understanding of our students to help shape the world and to ensure active participation in democracy.

In 2018, Federation accepted the invitation issued to all Australians by the Uluru Statement from the Heart, to walk together to build an inclusive country in which we can all thrive. Federation’s pursuit of social justice objectives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, teachers and school communities will always be guided by the 2018 decision of Annual Conference and the Aboriginal Education- 25 year approach: the way forward policy.

Solidarity always

Federation will continue to be guided by our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members in the ongoing struggle for recognition and social justice.

In 2017, the Uluru Statement from the Heart invited all Australians to walk together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for a better future. On October 14, millions of people responded with YES. YES to recognition, YES to listening and YES for justice and equality. 

A union’s greatest strength is its solidarity and collectivism. We must continue to actively campaign and support the objectives of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and work towards closing the gaps. With the referendum defeated, it’s time to make it known that our campaign continues. Together with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, we say to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities: “We stand with you. You are not alone. And we will continue to fight alongside you for justice and equality.” 

As allies, we won’t give up. We stand in solidarity, always. If you too stand in solidarity, sign the pledge to show your ongoing commitment to Voice, Treaty and Truth.

Today we acknowledge the Elders and Custodians of our diverse Nations and Countries. They are the knowledge holders and the educators of our communities. They have led us through the Referendum process and will continue to lead us as a nation that is still learning how to listen, to learn and to heal together.

In 2017, we accepted the invitation issued to all Australians by the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We accepted the generous offer from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to walk together to build a kinder, more compassionate country in which we can all thrive.

While the referendum outcome may not have been what we were hoping for, now is the time to strengthen our efforts and commitment to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

The referendum campaign has been hard fought, with people from all walks of life coming together with hope and a shared vision for the future. Each and every action that you took – from social media to phone banking, educational webinars to door-knocks, letterboxing, handing out at train stations, volunteering on pre-poll and on referendum day – made a difference, and lit a beacon of hope even amongst the darkest of turns along the road of this campaign.

The referendum result, and the journey to this point, reminds us that change can be a long and challenging process, and that we can encounter obstacles along the way. As teachers and principals we have a deep responsibility to build the skills, knowledge and understanding of our students to help shape the world that our students live in. This is transformative, and public education is at the heart of our society and indeed democracy.

Education provides a path to knowledge, opportunity and social progress for all. It is a powerful tool that can challenge biases, dismantle stereotypes and create inclusive environments.

Australia is home to the longest continuous thread of human culture anywhere in the world. Increasing numbers of Australians of all backgrounds are wanting to learn more about the expansive, foundational history of this continent. They are genuinely excited and proud that this country is home to the oldest continuous living culture on the planet.

As we walk together in hope for a better future, let us make sure that we do not take a step backwards. Let us foster an environment in public education where open and honest discussions about our history can take place. Let us guide and inspire critical thinking, empathy and a sense of responsibility amongst our students. When we equip young people with the knowledge needed to truly understand the past, we empower them to be active, informed citizens who can shape a more just and compassionate future.

Our work to achieve justice alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities is not finished. Today, and every day, we recommit ourselves to walking together towards a better future for our students, their families and our communities.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

At Annual Conference in 2018, Federation committed to supporting the Uluru Statement from the Heart in its entirety. We accepted the invitation from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to walk together in a movement of the Australian people for a better future towards Voice, Treaty and Truth.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation to the Australian people from First Nations Australians. It asks Australians to walk together to build a better future by establishing a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission for the purpose of treaty-making and truth-telling.

There are three core components: Voice, Treaty and Truth.

Voice to Parliament– Enshrining an Indigenous Voice in the Australian Constitution will give a permanent line of communication for Indigenous Peoples to the Australian Government to have a say on issues that affect them, their families and communities.

Treaty– A long-standing demand of Indigenous Peoples. A ‘Makarrata Commission’ would guide agreement-making between Indigenous peoples and governments.

Truth-Telling– The ‘Makarrata Commission’ would also make sure that the true history of colonisation is finally told.