The Uluru Statement from the Heart is one page long, not 26

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is one page long, not 26

What was claimed

The verdict

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a 26-page document, with policies including reparations for First Nations peoples.

False. The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a one-page document, as confirmed by its authors. Papers released under FOI contain the statement, but also include 25 pages of background information, including minutes of meetings held with Indigenous communities, which are not part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Uluru Statement from the Heart against Aboriginal artwork

By Eiddwen Jeffery

The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has confirmed that the Uluru Statement from the Heart is a one-page document, rebutting claims by Sky News political commentator Peta Credlin that it is 26-pages long and contains "hidden" policies.

The 440-word statement was agreed upon in 2017 by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and is the keystone document behind the upcoming Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice referendum

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also dismissed the claim, describing the supposed revelation of a 26-page version of the statement as “nonsense and conspiracy” in Parliament on August 8.

In a Sky News television broadcast on August 3, Ms Credlin claimed a Freedom of Information request had “forced” the government to release the “full” 26-page version of the Uluru Statement which she said contained policies that had been “hidden from voters”.

"The Uluru Statement from the Heart is not a one-page document. It’s actually 26 pages in all, and we only know that because the government's been forced to release the full document under Freedom of Information, FOI," she said.

On the same day, her claim was also published in a column in The Australian.  A link to Ms Credlin's broadcast was also shared on Facebook by Country Liberal Party senator ​​Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who days later told Sky News that she had received verbal clarification from the NIAA  that the Uluru Statement was “in fact, the 26 pages and not just, of course, the one page”. 

The claim has now spread on social media. 

A Facebook user who also shared a link to Ms Credlin’s broadcast said: “The Uluru statement from the heart is not some modest 1 page document. It is 26 PAGES outlining the frightening abolition of our private property rights, farming, reparations, compensation including a % of GDP etc.” 

Another post stated: “Did anyone think that there was something weird about the 1 page Uluru statement. Thanks to FOI (& via Peta Credlin in The Oz) we now know it’s 26 pages & full of all the things they don’t want you to know!”

But the claim that the Uluru Statement is anything more than a single page is false. 

A spokesperson from the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) told RMIT FactLab in an email, “the Uluru Statement from the Heart is a one-page document, [as] confirmed by the authors Noel Pearson, Pat Anderson AO and Professor Megan Davis.”

Professor Davis has also dismissed claims that the Uluru Statement from the Heart is 26 pages long as "disinformation" and a "well-organised and well-funded misinformation campaign".

Professor Davis has in the past referred to an 18-page "Uluru statement many people don't know", while urging people to "read that whole document, which we call the Uluru Statement from the Heart" — a version she said was "not often read and [was] overlooked".

Writing in The Australian on August 10, however, she dismissed allegations that this meant the Uluru Statement itself was longer than one page.

"Politicians of bad faith like Pauline Hanson and the Coalition, who are on a unity ticket, are pointing to a Henry Parkes Oration I gave in 2018, where I say the Uluru Statement is not only the one pager, that there's 18-20 more pages for Australians to read," she wrote.

"This is alluding to the many pieces of information that informed the Uluru Statement or provide context to the statement," she wrote.

On X (formerly Twitter), Professor Davis also rejected claims that the extra pages were kept "secret" until recently, noting that most have been publicly available for years, as they form part of the 2017 Final Report of the Referendum Council.

"That's the formal report. It's all in there … nothing hidden," she wrote on August 9. "It's been there for seven years."

The documents at the centre of Ms Credlin’s claim were released in March by the NIAA and contain records from the First Nations Regional Dialogues held in 2016 and 2017. All up, there are 14 documents totalling 112 pages of summarised meeting minutes, none of which are part of the final Statement from the Heart.

The 13 regional meetings were held by the bipartisan Referendum Council to discuss how best to recognise Indigenous Australians in the constitution.

Ms Credlin’s statements relate to the last 26 pages of the FOI release, which she claimed contain the “full 26-page [Uluru] statement”. Sky News published a version of the documents, rearranging them to open with the 26 pages from Ms Credlin’s claim.

But the NIAA spokesperson said the 26 pages from the FOI release are not one whole statement. Instead, the select pages consist of “the one page Uluru Statement from the Heart, followed by 25 pages of background information and excerpts of regional dialogues that informed the one-page Uluru Statement from the Heart.”

Within the 2017 Final Report of the Referendum Council is a history of Indigenous Australians titled "Our Story", the contents of which form six pages of the 26-page NIAA document.

Our Story also features prominently on the official Uluru Statement from the Heart website, where it has been available since at least May 2020.

And while the Referendum Council report described Our Story as "extracts from the Uluru Statement from the Heart", council co-chairs Mark Leibler AC and Ms Anderson have both disputed that characterisation.

"I was at Uluru for the national convention and witnessed the adoption of the Statement," wrote Mr Leibler on X.

"It was a one page statement. It should not be confused with records of discussions which were never adopted by delegates at the Convention," he wrote.

Ms Anderson, meanwhile, appearing on the ABC's 7.30 program on August 9, said "the Uluru Statement from the Heart is a one-pager".

"It's 439 words," she said, adding that, unlike the statement, Our Story "didn't need people to accept that or vote on it."

Beyond the Our Story section, most of the remainder of the 26-pages are drawn from a set of guiding principles and reform priorities, which were published in the Referendum Council report and subsequently referenced in parliament and reported by the media.

Ms Credlin also claimed that the Uluru Statement included policies such as the potential for reparations to be “paid by taxpayers” to First Nations peoples. 

That is a reference to treaty discussions held during the regional dialogues and is not contained in the one-page Uluru Statement.

Many social media users who shared Ms Credlin’s claim have similarly confused excerpts from the regional dialogues with the Uluru Statement. 

A spokesperson from the NIAA told FactLab earlier this year the excerpts of regional dialogues contained in the FOI release “simply reflect the broad range of comments of participants involved in the process” and “do not represent the policy of either the government at the time they were created or the current government.”

The claim has also been amplified by One Nation senator Pauline Hanson, which is not the first time she has spread misinformation about the NIAA FOI documents. Earlier this year, FactLab debunked a claim that the documents contained a “secret list" of proposals by Indigenous Australians including plans to change the Australian flag.

The NIAA spokesperson said the NIAA chief executive officer Jody Broun had written to Senator Price to provide clarification on the documents released through FOI. 

Editor’s note: This article was updated on August 20 to include up-to-date information, including quotes from Professor Megan Davis, to provide more context.


The verdict

False. The Uluru Statement is a one-page document comprising just 440 words, as confirmed by the statement’s authors. Papers released under FOI contain the statement, but also include 25 pages of background information, including minutes of meetings held with Indigenous communities in 2016 and 2017, which are not part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The claim that the FOI documents reveal that the Uluru Statement of the Heart is 26 pages long and contains policies such as reparations for First Nations peoples is false.


10 August 2023


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