Voice to Parliament is a chance for practical change
Later this year, every Australian will vote in a referendum that has the power to bring our country together and to make meaningful change in the lives of First Nations Australians.
If successful, the referendum to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament will do two things …
First, it will recognise, in the Constitution, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians as the first peoples of Australia. For the first time, the Constitution – our nation’s birth certificate – will recognise the fact that for thousands of years and long before colonisation, the land, seas, and sky of this great continent were cared for and inhabited by some of the world’s most ancient cultures.
Secondly, the Voice to Parliament will enshrine genuine consultation with First Nations people about government policies that affect them.
This consultation is essential. For years, politicians have made decisions for Indigenous people rather than with them. The result has been decades of little to no improvement in the fundamental life outcomes of First Nations Australians.
Indigenous Australians are dying nearly 10 years younger than non-Indigenous Australians.
The rates of chronic disease in First Nations communities are still too high.
Employment outcomes for young Indigenous Australians are not on track.
Housing in Indigenous communities is overcrowded and in short supply.
Suicide rates among First Nations people are getting worse.
The gap is not closing. Progress has been too slow. We need practical action to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians.
And practical action is what the Voice will deliver. By consulting with communities and people on the ground, through listening to the experiences of Indigenous people, government can make policy that will actually change lives for the better and reflect the lived experience of First Nations people.
I believe fairness is an innate part of the Australian character. And I believe giving the most disadvantaged people in our society a voice to help make their lives better is only fair.
That is why I am campaigning for “Yes” in the referendum this year, and why I hope you will too.
Getting a successful result won’t be easy. It will depend on every Australian talking to their friends and family about why it’s time to recognise Indigenous Australians in our Constitution and time to start listening to their voices.
It will be these conversations which decide the referendum. So, let’s talk.•