Yes to the Voice

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an expression of the majority of Australia’s First Nations people. Read it here. It is one page. It results from several years of collaborative work, by the First Nations People. For people like me who are paid to facilitate agreement in divisive situations, I know that to arrive at such a beautiful and simple statement is a commitment to something far beyond egos and petty personal agendas. Contrary to the conspiracy talk, the Uluru statement was crafted by everyday Indigenous people, not the “elites”. 

It seeks to enshrine a Voice for First Nations People in the Australian Constitution. This is akin to having your name registered on a birth certificate. 

You exist. In your existence, you have rights. All rights come with responsibilities. 

This is true for all Australians. It has never been true for our First Nations People. It will be true if we vote Yes. 

Rights and responsibilities. They are bound together. 

Yet, for too long, and still to this day, many have had rights without responsibilities. Our Mining Companies. Our lobby groups are for big industries like gambling and alcohol. They have a voice, and it is very loud and extremely powerful. They care not a wit about the consequences of their actions.

Anyone who believes that a Voice in the constitution gives First Nations people rights without responsibilities does not understand Constitutional Law. Indeed, if you believe the Voice will provide anything but a voice and recognition on the Australian Birth Certificate, you have not listened to the majority of Constitutional Lawyers – people who spend every day for decades understanding Constitutional Law.

To be named in the Constitution, and to be able to speak for solutions to the intractable issues that First Nations people face – to be able to speak for the solutions as the people with the problems – is to also take responsibility if those solutions fail. Those solutions also need to pass Parliament. It is not carte blanche. 

The majority of our First Nations People want the Voice. If I were in their shoes, I would want to be recognised in the present time and for the 65,000 years of existence prior to now. At the minimum. What an incredibly dignifying statement recognition is. It could be similar to giving women the right to vote.

Australia is the only colonised country in the world that does NOT recognise their First Nations people in their government and legislative process.

The campaign for NO is steeped in fear, conspiracy, lies, racism, and all other variations of divisiveness. That it comes from fear is almost enough for me to reject it. 

The campaign for YES is steeped in love, respect, recognition, acknowledgment, compassion, and a genuine interest in a truthful record of  Australia’s bloody history.

I choose love. I choose Yes. I choose the first dignified step on a long journey to healing.

When I watch this ad for the Voice, endorsed by the Aussie music icon John Farnham, who wrote his song, The Voice, in the 1980s, tears roll down my cheeks. It was as if he wrote this song decades ago in preparation for this time.

Photo Taken August 17th 2023

**If you are interested, The Guardian presented a factual rebuff to points made by the NO campaign here.

The tragedy of our current times is that overwhelming proof is no longer a requirement for people to change their minds.