If you’re an Aussie, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about a campaign urging for a constitutionally enshrined First Nation Voice to Parliament.
And if you’re like most Australians, you probably:
Have no idea what a First Nations Voice is.
Have no idea why a First Nations Voice is needed.
Have no idea why a First Nations Voice should concern you.
If you fit into one or more of these categories, that’s absolutely ok. You are far from being alone in this. In fact, most of the people I talk to about a First Nations Voice, fit into all three of these categories.
Have no fear, I’m going to lay it all out in the most non-lawyer or political jargon-ish way I can. Just real talk.
Ok first up…
What’s a First Nations Voice?
A First Nations Voice will be a representative body of First Nations people (aka the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community). A First Nations Voice that I’m referring to is the one called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. It’ll have power to influence government when making decisions affecting First Nations people. At present, Government isn’t compelled to consider the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Even when politicians are deciding on laws and policies that only affect them and their communities. This direct communication from people with cultural and kinship knowledge would assist government in legislation creation that’ll benefit First Nations people. Rather than it being dis-empowering and destructive or ineffective and wasteful. A well considered and culturally respectful policy will be much better received by our First Nations people. It’d also decrease the number of taxpayer dollars going into culturally unsound policies that are destined to fail. Most importantly, it’ll be a good step forward for healing and reconciliation within our country.
Why is a Voice needed?
Having a voice is having a say. Many of the people I talk with, tell me that First Nations people do get a say because they can vote. Here’s where it gets interesting. Having a vote is great, unless you never had a seat at the table to begin with. I know, I’ve gone all cryptic on you. Let me explain…
We as voters elect our political representatives to make decisions on our behalf. Their vote reflects their constituents (aarrgh political term… it means the people in their area that elected them). First Nations people make up less than 3% of our population. Their say isn’t really heard, compared to the voices of 97% of the constituency. Who, are also less likely to be impoverished and disengaged from the political system.
One of the most important reasons a First Nations Voice is needed, is because the Government has the power to make legislation and policy that only affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They have this power despite us having the Racial Discrimination Act. In these cases, the people that get the biggest say are the people that will never be affected by the decisions. The people who will get directly affected, don’t stand a chance of being heard. A First Nations Voice could change this imbalance. Impacts of decisions would be communicated to voting members of Parliament. Before they make a decision. This dialogue to parliament allows for better-educated votes. It’d give voting members some insight whether decisions are disadvantageous or culturally disrespectful. And they won’t be able to say they weren’t informed.
I think this video by from the Referendum Council explains this concept quite well.
Why is a First Nations Voice is important to all Australians?
First and foremost, your Australian brothers and sisters are suffering because of a system that we have the power to change. We are all Australians and we care and value fairness, justice and helping a mate. At the moment Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not represented fairly in our political system. They were excluded from our democracy in 1901 when Australia became a Federation under our constitution. It’s the constitution, that needs to be amended to include First Nations People. With constitutional reform that’s not symbolic, but substantive, Aboriginal people will have self-determination. They will have a say over their futures and enjoy that same right as most Australia’s do. Their lives, their health, their everything will improve. This will have a flow-on effect into all communities. When the community cares for its people, its people care for the community. This means your community; your family and your life will improve too.
“With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.” – Uluru Statement from the Heart
Why we need your support.
It’s a difficult task to change Australia’s constitution because it needs to go to a referendum. A successful referendum requires, what they call, a double majority. A double majority is when there must be a majority of ‘YES’ votes with the states and territories… and there must also be a majority ‘YES’ vote within the Australian population as a whole. Only then, can the constitution be changed.
First Nations People can’t achieve this alone. Even if every single Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voted… and vote ‘YES’, we simply don’t have the numbers. That’s why we need all our Australian brothers and sisters to come on this journey with us. If people understand what a Voice is, why it’s being called for and how it’ll positively affect Australia, we’ll have a chance to create an Australia that puts actions to values like fairness and justice. We’ll have a chance to prove that the voices and lives of our First Nations people are valued in a way that is more than just symbolism, but ongoing and genuine. As we did in the 1967 referendum, we’ll have a chance to unite as Australians for Australia’s First Nations people.
The voice of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are speaking to you through the Uluru Statement from the Heart saying:
“We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.” -Uluru Statment from the Heart
Now I’m asking you. Will you support a First Nations Voice? Will you walk with us?
I hope to have you walking by our side,
If you liked this blog and are wondering why you haven’t heard of the Uluru Statment from the Heart until now, this blog may interest you too: Have you Heard of the Uluru Statement?
Listen to the Uluru Statement from the Heart below.
If you would like to subscribe to the Uluru Statment and First Nations Voice campaign you can do so at www.1voiceuluru.org (it is in the section titled “Support the Uluru Statement”)
If you would like to join the Australian-wide campaign team, you can request to join the team on Facebook Here.
Got a story you’d like to share about why you support the Uluru Statment from the Heart and a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice? There’s no time like the present, please contact me today!
A special thank you to my Husband Shane O’Reilly and Thomas Mayor for your help with this blog.