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The Uluru Statement from the Heart: how a manifesto ignited a movement

The manifesto is a powerful catalyst for tangible action and change. As Australians get ready to head to the polls to vote on an Indigenous voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, we look at the manifesto behind the movement: The Uluru Statement from the Heart.

How is The Uluru Statement from the Heart a manifesto?

The Uluru Statement from the Heart was birthed from a consultative and collaborative process at the First Nations National Constitutional Convention in 2017. There was challenge and compromise in its creation, but the document that emerged was a consensus of a majority of delegates.

It was reproduced on canvas with Indigenous artwork, hand-signed by delegates, and then travelled around five states and territories. This physical journey was a symbolic act: a surge of momentum as Indigenous people and their allies advocated for real change in Australia.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a roadmap to bring the principles of the Statement to life. It is an invitation to the Australian people to walk alongside our Indigenous peoples. It is a practical proposal to reform the constitution and has culminated in the Voice proposal and referendum.

The Statement poetically illustrates that manifestos go beyond words. One by one, they peel off the page like a crackle of cockatoos, converging in a pulsing mass of energy that embeds in the hearts of believers. Sometimes, manifestos convert the doubters. Often, they are rejected with equal force. The most effective manifestos become practical blueprints for the future.

Turn emotion into collective energy with a manifesto

When I work with people and organisations to create their own Manifestos, I encourage them to channel their anger. Anger is an energy. In the words of Big Issue founder John Bird, “Anger is a brilliant initiator. If you don’t feel angry about the world you probably don’t want to change it.” 

However, in the Uluru Statement from the Heart we don’t sense anger. Instead, we witness pain, loss and longing – equally energetic states of being. We also hear hope and see a generous hand extended towards us. Come, it beckons. Join with us and be part of a new Australia.

We will vote in two weeks.

But the referendum has stirred unchecked anger on both sides that may break people. A deep line has been eked out in the red dust of this Country and we stand face-to-face across the divide. As the granddaughter of white European Methodist missionaries in Arnhem Land, I accept the invitation in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. I cross the line and stand on the side of YES side. 

In time, we must hope that the winds blow the line away until no trace of it remains. 

Four Indigenous women sit with the Statement on fabric in front of them, and Uluru behind them.

Create a manifesto with real-world impact like the Uluru Statement from the Heart

By following the steps below and maintaining a clear, strategic approach, a manifesto can be transformed from words on paper into a powerful force for tangible action and positive change in the world. It serves as a rallying point and a source of inspiration for those who share your vision and are motivated to turn it into reality.

Be clear in your vision

Ensure that your manifesto clearly articulates your vision, values, and the change you want to see. This clarity is essential for rallying support.

Build a community

Foster a sense of community among those who resonate with your manifesto. Create online and offline spaces for supporters to connect, share ideas, and organise.

Collaborate

Collaborate with like-minded organisations, groups, or individuals who share your goals. Joint efforts can amplify your impact and expand your reach.

Set goals

Break down your manifesto’s overarching vision into specific, actionable goals and initiatives. Clearly define what needs to be done and set measurable targets.

Design an advocacy campaign

Develop advocacy campaigns that align with your manifesto’s principles. These campaigns should be well-planned, leveraging various mediums, from social media to traditional media and events, to raise awareness and mobilise supporters.

Educate and raise awareness

Use your manifesto as a foundation for educational materials, workshops, and presentations that help people understand the issues at hand and the importance of taking action.

Set up a feedback loop

Maintain an open feedback loop with your community. Listen to their ideas, concerns, and feedback, and adjust your strategies accordingly. But do remember – not everyone is happy all of the time. 

Commit for the long-haul

Remember that lasting change often takes time. Stay committed to your cause and manifesto, even when faced with setbacks or slow progress.

Celebrate and recognise progress

Keep spirits high by acknowledging and celebrating achievements and milestones along the way. Recognise the efforts of your supporters and inspire them to keep going.

Iterate and evolve

Over time, your manifesto will need to evolve to address changing circumstances or new insights. Be willing to revisit and update it as necessary.

More manifesto tips on the blog…