The heart of this nation is good, but it needs healing. For us to move forward and be the best that we can be, its foundations are to be put right. The custodians of this land for over 60,000 years formed a cradle which nurtures the younger nation of 240 years. It’s time to formally acknowledge the past, seek forgiveness and accept the generous invitation to walk together, expressed in the Statement from the Heart. There is deep listening to be done on the part of settler people, and we must listen carefully because the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is quiet but rightly resolute. The call for truth and justice can no longer be ignored. We need to listen humbly to what is wanted and needed by the First Peoples. Once and for all, we need to set matters to right honestly, and if we do not, we remain a diminished nation and we cannot truly move forward. There is so much to gain and nothing to lose.

The Statement from the Heart is a gift of great grace and goodwill, and the nation is blessed to have it. The wisdom and spiritual strength of our First Peoples is found in their voice, which needs to be heard in the governance of this land at all levels. To include their voice in national policy development gives us all a chance to benefit, and I welcome it with open arms. Australia must fold the Statement from the Heart into the heart of the nation.