The Clock is Ticking

Join us to hear from an exciting range of speakers who will stimulate discussion and reform ideas to help Australia meet the challenge of tackling entrenched disadvantage and inherited poverty. Presented by Cape York Family Responsibilities Commissioners, Noel...

Noel Pearson envisages an Australia unified through the pursuit of self-interest

The outspoken advocate delivered a pointed vision of the nation's journey to unification while delivering the annual Hal Wootten Lecture at UNSW Sydney. Noel Pearson delivered an optimistic “Declaration to Australia”, along with a series of “uncomfortable but...

Noel Pearson: NITV Living Black

Noel Pearson is a lawyer, academic, land rights activist and founder of the Cape York Land Council and Cape York Institute for policy and leadership. Widely known for his strong views on Indigenous policy, Noel has always advocated for a shift in direction when it...

Radical Heart Review: Rocky road to reconciliation

This is a political memoir of sorts, documenting seven years of intellectual hard grind and recognition lobbying efforts. There is a three-part notion of Australian identity taking root alongside the flowering movement for indigenous constitutional recognition, one...

Radical Heart- Shireen Morris Book Extract

Malcolm Turnbull could have just said no. Instead he made the dishonest “No” case. Why? My best explanation is that he got scared by the Indigenous consensus. Scared by the growing, widespread public support. A constitutionally enshrined First Nations voice, modest as...

Noel Pearson says Indigenous Australians must not be intimidated by ‘ordinary’ Malcolm Turnbull

A referendum to give Indigenous people more power to run their own affairs is a "life and death matter", Indigenous leaders say. At the Garma Festival in north-east Arnhem Land, Gumatj clan leaders Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu and Djawa Yunupingu said they were bitterly...

Pearson Pushes Constitution-first Line on Indigenous Treaty

Establishing a “First Nations Voice” in the constitution would lead to treaty negotiations to address “fundamental questions” about the way Australia was settled, Noel Pearson has declared. The Cape York leader, who has championed the Voice proposal over many years,...

Radical Heart Launched

It's been a very busy few weeks of launches and media for the new book, Radical Heart, by Shireen Morris from Cape York Institute. The book documents Shireen's personal story working in Constitutional Recognition for the past seven years. A...

Shireen Morris: The Uluru Statement From The Heart: Why I Have Hope

Nine months after the Prime Minister’s rejection of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, I remain hopeful constitutional recognition can still be achieved. The Uluru Statement created a massive political opportunity that is not going away. The opportunity remains alive...

Teela Reid: Labor turns down volume on voice that must be heard

I was raised by my single mother and have always been inspired by strong black women. I was reminded of these many formidable Indigenous women who have challenged and encouraged me to speak up for justice when I appeared on Q&A’s people panel on Monday night, during...

Interim report set to test ideas on Recognition

A federal parliamentary committee will “feed the ball into the scrum” with its first report on constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at the end of the month, according to one of its chairmen. The 11-member committee was set up...

Constitutional Recognition: A Wicked Problem?

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...

‘Dastardly deeds, betrayal and stalking horses’: Noel Pearson opens up

In a wide-ranging interview on NITV’s Living Black, Cape York leader Noel Pearson has said that it was the failure of the conservatives and internal dynamics of the federal government that led to the rejection of the Uluru Statement last year. Speaking with presenter...

OPINION: The Government sets the goal posts, only to move them when Indigenous people score

The struggle for rights, even dignity, for Indigenous people in this country could be likened to precariously building a sandcastle in cyclonic conditions. Our government is the tantrum throwing brat that comes in and stomps on our carefully crafted structure. Why?...

New book seeks to renew the push for indigenous recognition

Late last year there was widespread frustration in Australia's indigenous community when the Prime Minister rejected the much-anticipated Uluru Statement from the Heart. The statement called for a 'First Nations Voice' to Parliament to be enshrined in the Constitution...

Noel Pearson addresses Uphold and Recognise Big Ideas Launch

Thank you Rachel and thank you Justice Kirby.  Thank you to the Australian Catholic University and the Glen Institute for their marvellous work putting the detail on the ideas of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.  Let me acknowledge the Eora...

Malcolm Turnbull urged to answer calls for ‘voice’ to parliament

Malcolm Turnbull has been urged to “immediately” answer calls for an indigenous “voice” to parliament regardless of his view on whether the body would win support at a referendum. Launching a comprehensive set of proposals for ways to legislate the voice, as well as...

‘Voice’ plan ready, ‘sense of justice’ still needed

Malcolm Turnbull’s criticism of the Referendum Council’s report on indigenous constitutional recognition — that it contained too little detail — will be answered today with a sweeping set of proposals to be unveiled by former High Court judge Michael Kirby. The...

Pearson ally blasts Recognise campaign as ‘Turnbull’s echo chamber’

The multi-million-dollar Recognise campaign actively undermined indigenous attempts at constitutional recognition and became an “echo chamber” for Malcolm Turnbull because its chief figures were on the government payroll, an explosive new book claims. Recognise, which...

Noel Pearson offers PM a new path to First Nations voice

Noel Pearson has offered Malcolm Turnbull an olive branch on indigenous constitutional recognition, telling a parliamentary committee there are ways to ensure a proposed advisory voice to parliament does not become a “third chamber” or additional representative...

Law Council supports calls for Voice to Parliament

The Law Council has today called on the Australian Government to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to constitutionally enshrine a representative Voice to the Australian Parliament. The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating...

AMA Endorses Uluru Statement from the Heart

The AMA Federal Council has endorsed the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for a First Nations Voice in the Australian Constitution. Regarded by some as the “most important piece of political writing in Australia in the past two decades”, the Uluru...

Hieu Van Le’s story: one thread in Australia’s rich tapestry

Hieu Van Le arrived on a wooden boat that chugged into Darwin Harbour on a misty dawn in 1977. Since then he has occasionally spoken publicly of how the “profound and moving generosity” that met his arrival 41 years ago became the grounding of a dream for a new life...

Building on the Uluru statement

In July last year, the Referendum Council met with the prime minister. It was a historic moment, and many participants were optimistic that, finally, meaningful constitutional recognition was imminent. They had met to discuss the independent council’s report, which...

In the spirit of getting the ball rolling, Noel Pearson offers this ‘Declaration of Australia and the Australian People’

WHEREAS THREE STORIES MAKE AUSTRALIA: the Ancient Indigenous Heritage which is its foundation, the British Institutions built upon it, and the adorning Gift of Multicultural Migration: And whereas Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes...

Symbolic indigenous recognition for all of us – Noel Pearson

In my address to the 50th anniversary dinner of this newspaper in July 2014, I first proposed the concept of the three stories of Australia as follows: Our nation is in three parts. There is our ancient heritage, written in the continent and...

Noel Pearson’s stories from the heart of Australia

Three stories that “make Australia” are the centrepiece of a historic declaration drafted by Noel Pearson that he believes should stand alongside the nation’s Constitution to provide recognition of indigenous peoples for the first time. The...

Danny Gilbert: Why we need an Indigenous ‘voice to the Parliament’

Twelve months later we yet have another Joint Select Committee considering Indigenous Constitutional Recognition. We had the Expert Panel in 2012, a Joint Select Committee in 2015 and the Referendum Council in 2017. In June 2017, the Referendum Council recommended a...

The Uluru Statement From The Heart Lowitja O’donoghue Oration 2018

I thank the Kaurna people for your kindness. I bring greetings from Cape York Peninsula to you and all our First Nations here tonight. I thank the Don Dunstan Foundation for giving me this privilege. I met Don when I was 23 when he visited my village in Cape York...

Noel Pearson calls for a ‘declaration’ celebrating all Australians

Cape York lawyer Noel Pearson says there is still a "window" to develop a constitutionally-enshrined voice representing Indigenous Australians, one year on from the Uluru Statement from the Heart. A joint parliamentary committee is looking into alternative proposals...

Regions key to giving voice to recognition, says Noel Pearson

Indigenous constitutional recognition will remain “unresolved” unless the proposed advisory voice to parliament is taken to a referendum, Noel Pearson has warned, setting up a new battle with Malcolm Turnbull over the Prime Minister’s rejection of this option....

Aboriginal leaders say PM Malcolm Turnbull was ‘deceitful’ over recognition dialogue

Aboriginal leaders have accused the Prime Minister of being "deceitful" and duplicitous for privately encouraging them to consult the Australian public on enshrining an Indigenous voice in the constitution before publicly rejecting the proposal. At the centre of the...

Australia Day on January 25-26 a ‘noble’ compromise between old and new | Noel Pearson

The observance of Australia Day could commence on January 25 — the eve of the proclamation of British sovereignty over the east coast of the continent — and continue into January 26. This would straddle two sovereignties: the sovereignty of the First Nations that...

Shireen Morris: Don’t Change the Date, Change Its Meaning

When Captain Cook made his treacherous voyage to Australia in 1770, he carried with him secret instructions from the British King, authorising him to ‘take possession of convenient situations in the country in the name of the King of Great Britain’ but to do so ‘with...

The day Turnbull called me Lord Byron: Noel Pearson quizzed at Woodford

Constitutional reform activist Noel Pearson has told of how he was dubbed "Lord Byron" by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during discussions about establishing a national Indigenous representative body. In conversation with former ABC host Kerry O’Brien at the...

A Voice for First Nations

Fiona Jose reflects on this year's developments on a proposal for First Nations Voice to parliament. A proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Fiona’s love for her family, culture and heritage shaped her career in empowering local change in Indigenous...

Christian Porter lashes out at lawyer Shireen Morris in recognition row

Tensions over the Turnbull government’s dismissal of proposals for indigenous constitutional recognition have erupted, with a senior minister lashing out at a lawyer central in the process after being accused of putting his own job above the national interest. Social...

Betrayal: The Monthly

“Don’t get mad, get even.” This was Paul Keating’s advice when I made what only he could so aptly describe as a “jerky move”, channelling my febrile anger at the Howard government’s “Wik 10 Point Plan” into a naive and momentary impulse to join the Labor Party. This...

Warring Turnbull and Abbott betray indigenous recognition, says Pearson

Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott used indigenous constitutional recognition as a disposable weapon in their internecine war and had ambitions “only for themselves and not for the country”, Cape York lawyer Noel Pearson has alleged in an explosive new attack. In a...

Malcolm Turnbull ‘lying’ on indigenous voice plan: Pearson

Moves towards indigenous constitutional recognition have reached a damaging impasse, with Malcolm Turnbull warning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders they need to do more to get into parliament and Cape York leader Noel Pearson branding the Prime Minister a “liar”...

Shireen Morris: Turnbull’s rejection of an Indigenous voice to parliament is immoral and foolish

Australians should know the facts of the Turnbull government’s despicable rejection of the Uluru “statement from the heart” and the Referendum Council’s report on constitutional recognition. First Dog on the Moon nailed the truth: this government was never interested...

‘PM has broken our hearts’: Noel Pearson

Cape York leader Noel Pearson says, "There's no reconciliation and recognition under this Prime Minister," after Cabinet rejected a proposal for an Indigenous voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the constitution. Indigenous leaders at the Uluru convention in May...

Danny Gilbert – Indigenous Constitutional Recognition Speech

As a child of the 1950s, growing up on a farm in the south-west of NSW I was distantly aware of Aboriginal people. I knew that they didn't live like us. They had nothing. They didn't seem to like us whites and we didn't seem to like them. I remember the unwelcome...

Ensuring Wik-Mungkan Speakers Have a Say

Aurukun Ancestral Language Experts translated the Referendum Council document, Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution, into a Wik-Mungkan audio-recording for the Referendum Council. This lengthy and complex document was...

Noel Pearson: A First Nations Voice and What It Means for Australia: Queensland Media Club

WATCH VIDEO Thank you Barton[1] and thank you to this club for your kind invitation to speak to you at this extremely important time for us. I want to acknowledge the first nations of this region, we bring greetings from Cape York Peninsula. I want to say...
Australia’s Constitution has worked well to protect the rights of most Australians. It has not, however, worked well to protect the rights of Indigenous Australians.

Since the Constitution came into force in 1901, it has presided over many discriminatory laws and policies, most in relation to Indigenous people. Indigenous constitutional recognition seeks to fix this, by recognising the rightful place of the First Peoples in our nation, and putting in place some fairer constitutional rules to ensure that the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Australian government is fairer and more productive than in the past.

Indigenous people have for decades advocated for better consultation and representation in political decisions made by governments about their rights-they have argued for a voice in their affairs. From William Cooper calling for reserved seats in Parliament in 1937, the bark petitions calling for fairer consultation in 1963 and the Barunga statement calling for a national Indigenous representative body in 1988, Indigenous advocates have been seeking structural reform to enable greater empowerment in the political systems governing Indigenous affairs.

Cape York Partnership believes that constitutional recognition should enable Indigenous empowerment. It should guarantee Indigenous people a voice in political decision-making.

We back the recommendations of the Uluru Statement From the Heart and the Referendum Council Report. We therefore seek the following package of constitutional and legislative reforms:

  • insert a new Chapter 1A, to establish an Indigenous representative body, guaranteeing Indigenous peoples a voice in the laws and policies made about their affairs
  • enact an extra-constitutional Declaration and a Statute of Reconciliation to give effect to the symbolic statements of recognition and set in place some high-level agreed principles that should govern Indigenous affairs.

Resources: Recognition and Reconciliation