Gunnai Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung woman and Independent Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe described the No vote as a win for the Blak Sovereign Movement and the sovereign rights of First Peoples to determine their own destiny on October 15.
“This result marks an end to the era of powerless advisory bodies. It is a win for the Blak Sovereign Movement and First Peoples who are fighting for justice and the protection of the Sovereignty of over 250 First Peoples language groups across this continent.”
Thorpe encouraged everyone, regardless of how they voted, “to join the Blak Sovereign Movement “on a journey of healing and Truth-telling” and “to continue holding governments accountable to actually implement the changes first peoples have been calling for decades”.
She said Labor must pursue a “rights-based approach” and this must include aligning Australia with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), implementing in full the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the Bringing Them Home report and progressing Treaty.
“A large number of First Peoples voted No and have been against this referendum from the beginning. There were many others that voted No out of love and solidarity with First Peoples fighting for justice.
“This referendum has caused nothing but harm to First Peoples. From the start I argued it shouldn’t happen before Truth and Treaty and I requested that the Prime Minister cancel the referendum once the degree of harm was clear.
“It has been a disastrous political exercise that has wasted over $450 million during a cost of living crisis and a housing crisis.”
Thorpe said the result “presents us with a blank canvas” to “talk about Sovereignty, land rights and self-determination”.
She said the next step was to talk about Treaty.
“There is a Plan B and it’s Treaty!”
“To all the grassroots mob, activists, and allies who have built up networks, Yes or No, in the name of advancing the rights of First Peoples: We must look beyond the division that the referendum has caused and come together to demand the justice necessary to rebuild, and nurture the strength and power of our communities.”
“Do not let this be the last time you engage with our struggle. Pour your time, energy and passion into understanding our history and Lore, amplifying our voices, and standing with our grassroots communities.”
“We must continue to pressure the federal government to begin Treaty-making, implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people and implement in full the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the Bringing Them Home report that have been ignored for decades.”
Thorpe encouraged everyone to “continue to pressure the federal government to begin Treaty-making” and called on the Prime Minister and government to “sit with me and the Blak Sovereign Movement to look at a way forward from here”.
“The Albanese government promised to pursue all three elements of the Statement from the Heart, and there is no excuse to delay Truth and Treaty any further.
“Peace Treaties must be front and centre, with every one of our language groups to [be able to] Self-Determine for themselves.
“State Treaties are not real Treaties; the Victorian Treaty process only allowed 11 of 38 language groups a seat at the table and with a state government, not a proclaimed Sovereign.”