25 March 2019

Leading Oz law firms give heart-felt support

In a constitutional reform move, 18 leading law firms in Australia issue support of indigenous Uluru people's 'statement from the heart.'

The firms issued a joint public response in support of the indigenous Uluru people’s ‘statement from the heart.’ On behalf of the group of 18 law firms, Brooke Massender, head of pro bono at Herbert Smith Freehills, said ‘the historic consensus reached at Uluru was a major milestone in the journey towards achieving substantive constitutional reform. Through this broad collaborative response we are signalling clearly that First Nations voices matter and should be heard.’

Formidable task

The supporting law firms are Allens, Arnold Bloch Leibler, Ashurst, Baker McKenzie, Clayton Utz, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Dentons, DLA Piper, Fisher Dore, Gilbert + Tobin, Herbert Smith Freehills, Holding Redlich, Jackson McDonald, King & Wood Mallesons, Lander & Rogers, Minter Ellison, Norton Rose Fulbright and Russell Kennedy. Their collective response to the Uluru Statement From the Heart is as follows: To the First Nations of Australia: Thank you for your Uluru statement from the heart, an invitation to Australia and the Australian people. Thank you for your invitation to walk with you in a movement of all Australian people for a better future. We recognise the Uluru statement from the heart as an historic mandate to create a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood. We hear and support your call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution and for a referendum as a national priority. We look forward to working with and supporting you, governments and all Australia to take this next step towards reconciliation. Megan Davis, pro vice chancellor indigenous, UNSW, and member of the Referendum Council said ‘the endorsement of the Uluru statement from the heart by Australia’s leading law firms is a historic development in the journey toward constitutional recognition of First Nations. Constitutional change is a formidable task in Australia.’

Inspiring confidence

Ms Davis said, ‘we have been working on this process for almost a decade. To have our leading law firms support the referendum as a national priority should inspire great confidence in the Australian community that this reform is modest and achievable. I applaud these 18 law firms to show this leadership in their moving collective response to our call at Uluru for Australians to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.’ Released in May 2017, the Uluru statement from the heart is a national indigenous consensus position on indigenous constitutional reform, which was drafted at the end of a three-day constitutional convention of 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates. The Statement was the culmination of 13 regional dialogues held around the country during a year-long consultation. Uluru is more than just a rock, popularly known as Ayers Rock, it is a living cultural landscape considered sacred to the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people. These people of the land are the traditional owners and guardians of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The Anangu people belong to the oldest culture known to man dating back 60,000 years. Although, the once nomadic lifestyle of the Anangu people has changed, they still continue to live by these ancient laws and traditions passed down through dreamtime stories from their ancestors. To view the Uluru Statement of the Heart, click here.

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