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A divided Australia will soon vote on the most significant referendum on Indigenous rights in 50 years

Sana Nakata writes in The Conversation (30.8.23) about the Prime Minister’s long-awaited announcement that the ‘Voice to Parliament’ referendum will be held on October 14, describing it as a national vote of generational significance.

‘Today, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced an October 14 date for a national referendum on whether to amend the Constitution to establish a new advisory body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

‘Called the “Voice to Parliament”, the new body would provide advice and make representations to parliament and the government on any issues relating to First Nations people. The Voice to Parliament has been toted as a vital step toward redressing Australia’s painful history of discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

‘The minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, has said it would also remedy a “long legacy” of failed policies on a variety of issues, from the over-representation of First Nations people in the prison system to poorer outcomes for First Nations people in health, employment and education.

‘… Even after 1967, it remains clear that existing voting rights and political institutions alone cannot represent the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the federal government.’

A yes vote for the voice would mean Australians could meet each other’s eyes and not flinch

Kirstie Parker, a Yuwallarai woman and signatory of the Uluru Statement From the Heart, writes in The Guardian (20.9.23) that a successful ‘yes’ vote in the Voice referendum would allow Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to ‘come together’ and the nation to ‘flourish’.

‘The spectacle of tens of thousands of Australians walking together in support of the voice last weekend was a powerful reminder of what the yes campaign for a First Nations voice is all about.

‘Yes is for unity and hope, it is for the energy that springs from a shared commitment to building a better future.

‘Looking out at the crowd gathered in Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga in Adelaide, where I had the honour to speak, I felt my ancestors with me.

‘I descend from one whose name translates literally to “big heart” and, witnessing the spectacle of thousands of South Australians determined to help make things right in this country, my own heart felt fit to burst.

‘… The Uluru Statement expresses our determination to end the status quo, one in which we experience catastrophic outcomes in every realm compared with non-Indigenous Australians.

‘These outcomes are indisputable. The ongoing impacts of colonisation, the intergenerational trauma it has caused, is undeniable.’

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