Uncle Bob Randall, who fought for native title recognition for Uluru in the 1980s, now wants the “historical wrong” of the Australian Constitution corrected.
Picture above: Uluru traditional owner Bob Randall, left, Aaron Pedersen, Sally Scales and Sophia Pearson mark the arrival of the Journey to Recognition to Uluru in the NT. Picture: Kelly Barnes Source: The Australian
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AS the desert sun sinks through the spinifex, a dozen people pause to watch the sunlight up the red rock of Uluru.
The sunset’s kaleidoscope of colours is a long-anticipated milestone for the group, which has marched 2300km for the cause of Aboriginal recognition since a cold Melbourne morning in May.
“We were so overwhelmed,” said Jill Gallagher (pictured above) , the 58-year-old chief executive of the Victorian Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations who drove all the way to Uluru from Melbourne. “It is exciting and overwhelming, and the journey that we’re on about recognition – it just all came together.”
More than 3000 people have joined the Journey to Recognition, which calls for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to be recognised as the First Peoples in Australia’s Constitution.
The convoy left Adelaide last Wednesday, heading north through Port Augusta and Coober Pedy, and stopping at small towns and communities alongthe way. They are part of a national relay – inspired by former AFL champion Michael Long’s Walk to Canberra nine years ago – that started in Melbourne in May and is scheduled to finish in Arnhem Land on August 1.
Uluru’s traditional owners joined with the travellers in the nation’s desert heart yesterday to reflect on the journey’s success, which has seen an upswell of support across the country. Bob Randall, a traditional Anangu owner of Uluru who lives in its shadows at the community of Mutitjulu, was there to welcome the convoy.
“The way to deal with this is to make the Constitution strong with its rightness, not strong in its wrongness.”
Both sides of politics have backed a referendum on the issue, with Tony Abbott walking the first leg of the march in May and Kevin Rudd continuing Labor’s support for the movement.
The referendum had been intended to take place at the federal election, but was delayed during a volatile parliamentary term.
Aboriginal actor Aaron Pedersen, from Alice Springs, also joined the march yesterday.
For Pedersen, a descendant of the Arrente and Arabana people, the journey is about drumming up support for change to ensure a successful referendum, expected some time in the next parliamentary term.
“This is about planting the seeds,” he said.
“Referendums aren’t very successful in Australia, but I think with all the momentum of saying sorry (to the Stolen Generations), we’ll keep the momentum going.”
Sally Scales, a 25-year-old traditional owner of South Australia’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, said she hoped the marchers could bring about the change needed to stamp out racism.