Signatory and advocate for the Uluru Statement from the Heart
Thomas Mayo is a Kaurareg Aboriginal and Kalkalgal, Erubamle Torres Strait Islander man. He lives on Larrakia land in Darwin and is the elected Assistant National Secretary of the MUA.
Thomas has more than twenty years of experience in leadership and advocacy, including the development of the Uluru Statement from the Heart in May 2017. He is a signatory to the Uluru Statement and has been a leading campaigner for its proposals for a Voice to Parliament and a Makarrata Commission.
Thomas has been a board director at Australians for Indigenous Constitutional Recognition since 2019, and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation since January 2024. He is also on the steering group for the First Nations Clean Energy Network, influencing clean energy policy and supporting the Indigenous peoples and their communities in policy development, energy access and negotiations.
Thomas is the author of seven books published by Hardie Grant and has many articles and essays published across the major media providers. In 2024, Thomas will be publishing two new books; a children’s book about the Torres Strait Islands flag will be published in May by Magabala Books, and a book about how the campaign for peace and justice for Indigenous people continues after the referendum was lost in 2023.
Thomas was inspired to write his first book: Finding the Heart of the Nation – the Journey of the Uluru Statement towards Voice, Treaty and Truth, after being entrusted to carry the sacred Uluru Statement from the Heart canvas to Australians from all walks of life, soon after its creation in the heart of the country in 2017. This best-selling book is now in a paperback second-edition.
He travelled throughout the nation for eighteen months with the Uluru Statement, taking it to the smallest of communities to large city gatherings, playing a key role in building the peoples movement for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to what it is today. His first children’s book: Finding Our Heart, is a children’s book about the Uluru Statement. It has enjoyed success because of its contemporary art and powerful truth telling with a uniquely clear call to action.
Thomas’ other recent works are a children’s book about the Gurindji Wave Hill Walk Off, Freedom Day – Vincent Lingiari and the story of the Wave Hill Walk-off, co-authored with Lingiari’s granddaughter, Rosie Smiler; and Dear Son – Letters and reflections from First Nations fathers and sons.
In Dear Son, Thomas invites twelve other First Nations men to join him, writing about life, love, masculinity and racism. Thomas writes that Dear Son is a celebration of First Nations men – an act of defiance against everything they were taught about themselves, and the stereotype taught to all Australians.
With respected journalist and author, Kerry O’Brian, Thomas published The Voice to Parliament Handbook that was published by Hardie Grant in May 2023. The book made a significant impact, selling more than 100,000 units in around 6 months, topping the charts for 2023 across many bookstores and online booksellers.
Thomas continues to passionately advocate for workers rights and for a constitutionally enshrined Voice. He is the Chairperson of the Northern Territory Indigenous Labor Network, advises the Diversity Council of Australia and the From the Heart campaign, and is an executive member of the Northern Territory Trades and Labour Council. His writing journey continues also, with several books in development.
Books, essays and articles by Thomas Mayo
A dream that cannot be denied - On the road to Freedom Day. Published online by Griffith Review 20
When the heart speaks - Learning the language of listening in Australia. Published in Griffith Review 70, Generosities of Spirit, 2020
Time to heal: Uluru healing the people and the land. Published in What Happens Next, Reconstructing Australia after COVID-19, 2020
Where truths collide - Challenging Australia’s shaky foundations. Published in Griffith Review 76, Acts of Reckoning, 2022
Understanding the Uluru Statement: Taking the invitation to the people through the classrooms Journal of Professional Learning 2022
Getting the people behind the Uluru Statement, The Saturday Paper 2018
We won’t give up on the Uluru Statement. Indigenous X 2018
Lessons from Vincent Lingiari: a Voice is worth fighting for. The Age/The Sydney Morning Herald 2019
The Voice is our movement, it does not belong to the politicians. SBS Online 2019
There’s no power and authority for us in the status quo. Indigenous X 2020
When inaction can become genocide. SBS Online 2020
Uluru Statement ‘the campaign of our lifetimes’. National Indigenous Times 2020
How we resolve the Australia Day date debate. Junkee 2021
The answer to Australia Day is already right in front of us. The Age/The Sydney Morning Herald 2022
Our people have never enjoyed a vantage point quite like this: the Uluru Statement, 5 years on The Age/Sydney Morning Herald 2022
The opening chapters in:
Ashley Hay (editor), Generosities of Spirit, Griffith Review 70, 2020
Ashley Hay (editor) with Teela Reid (curator), Acts of Reckoning, Griffith Review 76, 2022
Emma Dawson, Janet McCalman (editors), What Happens Next? Reconstructing Australia after COVID-19, MUP, Melbourne, 2020
Future publications by Thomas Mayo to look out for:
Thomas Mayo and Bernard Namok Jr, All about the Torres Strait Islander Flag, Magabala Books, 2023
Articles featuring Thomas Mayo
Labor’s republic plan described as a slap in the face for Indigenous Australians By Lorena Allam The Guardian November 2018
The Uluru Statement’s incredible 18-month journey across Australia. A feature piece by Helen Pitt 2019
Indigenous Activist Thomas Mayo’s clear statement. A feature piece by Kate Hennessy 2019
Our activism was missing something: The man who lugged the Uluru Statement across Australia A book review by Jeff Sparrow about ‘Finding the Heart of the Nation’ . The Guardian October 2019
Loving ourselves is an act of defiance: Tender and heartbreaking letters from fathers and son A book review by Paul Daley about ‘Dear Son’, September 2021
Why these First Nations men are writing letters to their sons A book review by Jennifer Johnston about Dear Son, September 2021
Thomas Mayo visits Launceston Preparatory school for Reconciliation Week By Satria Dyer-Darmawan, June 2022
Podcasts and Interviews
NITV’s Living Black: Season 25 Episode 8. January 2018 with Karla Grant
Black Magic Woman Podcast Episode 61 with Mundanara Bayles, May 2021
Episode 10: What unity means to author and advocate Thomas Mayo Australia Remade Podcast
Stories behind the Story with Better Reading Thomas Mayo on masculinity, love and culture with Cheryl Akle September 2021
The Guardian’s Book it in Podcast, about Dear Son with Paul Daley Tara June Winch and Thomas Mayo on Indigenous Masculinity December 2021
Find your Voice with Zoe Daniel January 2022
Cathy McGowan and Thomas Mayo speaking from the heart Wayne Jansson, May 2022
ABC Conversations July 2022 with Charlie King
Thomas currently has no upcoming events. Check back here for future updates.