Little more than a year after an unprecedented gathering of Indigenous elders and academics, delegates and activists, delivered the Uluru Statement from the Heart — and thereby laying out a new road map to constitutional recognition and substantive equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples — the political conversation surrounding recognition has all but stalled.
What Malcolm Turnbull’s rejection of the Uluru Statement from the Heart made apparent, once again, is that constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is a truly ‘wicked problem‘: a problem whose complexity and competing aspects seem actively to resist any solution; a problem that doesn’t have a single root cause; a problem that is intertwined with so many other problems.
So what are the aspects of the ‘wicked problem’ of constitutional recognition? Why has it proven impossible, to date, to solve? And why does is elicit such fear among so many Australians?
Richie Ahmat is Chairman of the Cape York Land Council.
Shireen Morris is a McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow at Melbourne University Law School and a Senior Adviser to Cape York Institute. She is the author of Radical Heart.