The largest member-based Aboriginal organisation in Australia has expressed its deep disappointment at Federal Cabinet’s rejection of the Referendum Council’s recommendations.
The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), whose elected representatives attended the historic Uluru Summit in May, said it was dissatisfied with the Federal Government’s handling of the issue.
NSWALC Chair Roy Ah-See said the Government had shown a lack of respect for Australia’s First Peoples on such an important and sensitive matter.
“If we are to heal the scars of the past and move forward, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be treated with respect.
“To learn of the Federal Cabinet’s rejection of the Referendum Council’s recommendation through a leak to the media falls short of the level of trust and respect that we demand.”
Cr Ah-See also serves on the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, which was not consulted or informed of Cabinet’s decision.
“The Indigenous Advisory Council has demonstrated its commitment to work with all parties on issues affecting Australia’s First Peoples. But the working relationship will only succeed if it is based on trust, transparency and respect not paternalism and secrecy.
“That was the clear message from the men and women who drafted the Statement from the Heart at Uluru.
“The mishandling of the Referendum Council’s recommendations marks an alarming shift away from the principles of truth-telling, justice and self-determination outlined at Uluru.
“The Federal Government needs to urgently rethink the working relationship and rebuild the confidence of Australia’s First Peoples.”