The Sisters of St Joseph are honoured to stand with First Nations Peoples and to affirm the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Its call for truth-telling, for a Makarrata Commission to supervise treaty-making, and for a national voice enshrined in the Constitutions, are seen by Josephites as reasonable, workable and judicious.
“We know that the Uluru Statement was delivered to the Australian people in 2017, after extensive dialogue with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” said Sr Monica Cavanagh, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph. “It is the official voice of First Nations Australians, and as Josephites, we stand with our Indigenous brothers and sisters in advocating for the acceptance of the whole of the Statement. Critically, we believe that a national voice enshrined in the Constitutions is fundamental to this invitation.”
The Government has made it plain that it intends to legislate a Voice before the end of this term of Parliament, but that this will not include Constitutional recognition. The recently released Interim Report to the Australian Government (the Indigenous Voice Co-design Process) does not, therefore, include a reference to Constitutional change.
Josephites believe that legislation is not sufficient, and that history attests to this – in regular changes in policy, and the diverse edicts legislated as the result of short-term electoral cycles.
“A National Voice is not a third chamber of Parliament (as has been argued by opponents), said Sr Monica. “It’s a voice to Parliament, enshrined in the Constitutions, providing First Nations Peoples with the opportunity to advise Parliament on issues related to them. As Josephites, we support both advocacy for the Statement and awareness-raising among non-Indigenous Australians.”
With thanks to the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart and the Josephite Justice Network.