The City of Vincent has become the latest local council in Western Australia to adopt the Uluru Statement from the Heart, voting on Tuesday night to draft a letter to the Prime Minister in support of the Statement.
The move has been in the works since the release of the City’s Innovative Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in 2019.
Mayor Emma Cole said Reconciliation has been a key part of the council’s agenda since the city was created in 1994.
“I just see such a great shift in our community; I’m seeing so much more happening in our community around Reconciliation and respect and learning of Aboriginal culture,” she said.
Mayor Cole hopes that with local council leadership, more pressure will be placed governments to move towards the Statement’s call for Voice, Treaty, and Truth.
“As we get to a point where we see another Close the Gap report come out, I really hope that people start to push our federal leaders and representatives to reconsider the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and really think about it seriously,” she said.
The Mayor believes climate change has demonstrated the value of local government taking leadership on issues that are less popular at higher levels of government.
“We’re not just about roads, rates, and rubbish. We’re elected representatives, and often when our community feels there’s a shortfall in representation of the issues that they want to bring to the table, they do turn to us in local government,” Mayor Cole said.
She said there was strong public support for the move.
“I would say to federal leaders and representatives that the community is really wanting to see change and wanting to see a shift. This is what we have been asked to do by First Nations people.”
From the Heart Director Dean Parkin said the public endorsement was heartening.
“Since 2017, the Uluru Statement from the Heart continues to gain support in the Australian community, as they walk on this journey with us,” he said.
“From the Heart welcomes the support for the City of Vincent and encourages all Australians to support the Uluru Statement and the call for a Voice to Parliament.
“This support is just another important step on the path to true recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.”
The City of Fremantle became one of the first local councils to officially back the Statement from the Heart in 2018, writing to the Federal Government to express their support for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said he believed the support for the Statement would continue to gain momentum.
“There’s been such a strong voice from the Aboriginal community, all over wanting a Voice to Parliament, wanting the kinds of key steps that that are outlined in [the Statement], and I think we can’t ignore it,” he said.
“We’re seeing local governments from around Australia going on quite a strong Reconciliation journey with their local communities and connecting through the Statement from the Heart.”
By Sarah Smit