Open letter to the Prime Minister: Support the Uluru Statement from the Heart

At its December meeting the Executive Committee of the AHA agreed to post an open letter to the Prime Minister urging his government’s support for the Uluru Statement. This letter is from members as individual historians, rather than the Association as whole. We invite you to add your support by signing the letter via the comments box below.


5 January 2018

The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP

Prime Minister

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600


Dear Prime Minister,

As professional historians working in Australia, we urge your government to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the recommendations of the Referendum Council for an Indigenous voice to the Australian Parliament.

The signatories below include Indigenous and non-Indigenous historians who teach and write about the histories of many nations and peoples; we are keenly conscious of the rare opportunity that this long consultation process offers to the Australian people. The recommendations arising from that exciting and important consultation should be respected and acted upon.

There has been a long history of Indigenous advocacy and forbearance in this country – more than two hundred years of patient petitioning to colonial, state and federal politicians and their institutions by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Tragically, those statements and processes of consultation have too often been betrayed or undermined by government, as if our politicians are uncomfortable with Indigenous strength and success. Historical research in recent decades has revealed the depth and pain of this lamentable failure. The Uluru Statement, which is the result of a decade of consultation initiated by the federal government, presents you with a vital opportunity to take a significant constitutional step forward.

We agree with our academic colleagues in law and politics that the Uluru Statement is a modest reform that respects the sovereignty of the Australian Parliament. It is not in any sense a ‘third chamber’. The proposal is far from radical, and Indigenous leaders have calmly reiterated that it is a voice, not a veto; it is a voice to parliament not a voice in parliament. We strongly support the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

We also note that the Uluru Statement calls for ‘truth-telling about our history’ as part of the coming together after a struggle that is represented by Makarrata. We welcome this challenging, necessary and positive process. We hereby offer the strong support and commitment for the crucial role of history in our national life that is envisaged in the Uluru Statement.

Yours sincerely,

Prof Lynette Russell, Monash University.