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6 quotes that show why Indigenous leaders should be in charge of Indigenous policy

On 27 May 1967 Australians voted to recognise the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the census and give the Federal Government powers to make laws for the benefit of Indigenous Australians.

It was a transformative moment in acknowledging the harmful wrongs of our colonial past. Yet 50 years on, the government continues to fail First Australians, and is ignoring their leadership.

As notable Indigenous leaders, academics, spokespeople and representatives met in Uluru last week they delivered a statement from the heart: “In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard.”

And as these inspiring quotes by influential Indigenous leaders show, no one knows their communities and the challenges they face better than they do themselves.

It’s time the Australian Government listens and follows their lead, and puts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the heart of their decision making.

Faith Bandler, Civil rights activist and campaigner during 1967 Referendum

“The one word ‘Yes’ on May 27 will open the door for real reform. It will tell the world at large that there is only one Australian, and his colour doesn’t matter at all.”


Kirstie Parker, CEO of National Centre of Indigenous Excellence

“We have our eye on the same destination – a sustainable future where Indigenous people are recognised for their wisdom and honoured for their culture – there is no problem taking a different path to reach that place.”

Jackie Huggins, Co-chair National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

“The true essence of reconciliation is more than making friends with non-Indigenous people. Our motto is a united Australia, one that respects the land and the heritage of its Indigenous peoples and provides justice and equity for all.”

Dr Tom Calma AO, Co-Chair Reconciliation Australia

“Here in Australia we’re fortunate enough to have one of the richest and oldest continuing cultures in the world. This is something we should all be proud of and celebrate.”


Warren Mundine AO, Australian Aboriginal leader and former National President of the Australian Labor Party

“Reconciliation will not work if it puts a higher value on symbolic gestures rather than the practical needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in areas like health, housing, education and employment.”

Lowitja O’Donoghue, former Australian of the Year and prominent public administrator

“We are all here now and we have to solve our differences and live together as Australians … I will use the title you have honoured me with to bring the Australian people together … Together, we can build a remarkable country, the envy of the rest of the world.