On 26 January 2018 a march calling for ‘Justice through Treaty’ seeks to show broad public support for the development of a Treaty with Aboriginal people. The march will build on the 1988 Long March for Peace Justice and Hope, where 40,000 people showed their support for Aboriginal rights and the 1938 Day of Mourning, where Aboriginal people from different states first joined forces in a call for justice.
We are organising this commemorative march because nothing has changed! In fact, in recent decades we have lost ground! Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s voices are still excluded from decisions making that impacts us. The punitive Northern Territory Intervention continues, welfare reforms that remove previous rights to cash payments target Aboriginal communities, the CDP work for the Dole requires unfair and burdensome requirements on remote Aboriginal communities not demanded of non-Aboriginal people! We have no funded national representative voice! The ongoing exclusion of Aboriginal decision making continues! Repeated cuts in funding of Aboriginal programs and services has ensured Close the Gap can’t succeed and cuts to services and housing are actually harming communities.
The tolerance of structural racism, which has condoned violent racism has led to the deaths of Elijah Doherty, Ms Dhu, Kwementyaye Ryder and too many others, and has enabled the torture of children and youth in detention centres. These approaches have led to shocking suicide rates and have failed to address the appalling living conditions for Aboriginal and Islander peoples. Punitive policies and the lack of recognition of our fundamental rights as Indigenous peoples, must be stopped!
A Treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people recognises Aboriginal sovereignty as the First Peoples was never ceded, and will implement Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights to self-determination. A just Treaty will address the stark disparity in economic social conditions of Aboriginal communities and the structural racism that continues to repress Aboriginal people.
A Treaty will provide the framework to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, now endorsed by the Australian Government, which asserts in Article 3: Indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination.
Calls for a Treaty builds on the Statement from the Heart’s call for a ‘Makarrata’, a Yolgnu word for coming together after a conflict, to move forward together. It also builds on several State based Treaties currently being developed. A Treaty sets a process to legitimately move forward in partnership between Aboriginal people and the Australian State.
So, we are asking Aboriginal and non-Indigenous supporters to come together from across the country, to demand Justice and a Treaty for our peoples!
The March will gather at the Redfern Park,9.30am, 26 January 2018, cnr Chalmers and Redfern Sts, and march to Hyde Park.