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Indigenous delegation seeks multi partisan support on Voice in Canberra

[supplied by Kerie Hull]


Ian Trust. Image: supplied

A delegation of Indigenous people from urban, regional, and remote Australia are in Canberra meeting with politicians from all sides who have opened their doors to hear from our communities about the importance of constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.

"We work hard on the frontline to respond to the serious issues of joblessness, violence, addiction, incarceration, child protection, health, and education from which our families and communities suffer," Chair of Empowered Communities Ian Trust says.

"What we want to see is a multipartisan commitment on constitutional recognition through Voice, so politicians from all sides are making a constructive contribution and are working to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and other Australians, achieve the future we all want to see.

"We welcome the Australian Greens unequivocal support for the historic reconciliation opportunity that is before the nation, at last, in 2023. 

"We were buoyed also to hear Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, this morning say he is interested in taking a bipartisan approach, and we hope the Australian Government works further with the Coalition to build on this.

"We remain hopeful Mr Dutton will accept our request to meet this week. 

"We want the Coalition’s support on this so that we have all minds working together to ensure this important reform achieves the on the ground results we need. 

"We have come here to try and make sure politicians of all persuasions understand the vital importance of constitutional recognition through Voice for our futures and the futures of families and loved ones, and for the future of the nation. 


"Ending the historic exclusion of Indigenous Australians in the nation’s legal foundation will achieve two key things.


"Firstly, it will put in place the basis of a new and enduring partnership with the first peoples of this country, so that all Australians can walk together into the future in a new and enduring partnership together.


"Secondly, the proposal for constitutional recognition through Voice, so we have a say in the decisions that are made about us, has come from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities because it can improve practical outcomes and close the gap. The best way to help people is to ask them what they need and work in partnership to solve difficult issues."


The proposal for constitutional recognition through Voice did not come about overnight. Many long years of effort, many inquiries and reports, and input from many, many First Nations people have propelled us to this juncture. To improve outcomes Indigenous people have been asking for a voice in our own affairs for a long time, including in the 2017Uluru Statement from the Heart.


Across our 10 Empowered Communities regions we have a proud and multigenerational history of advocacy on these matters. 


Such calls came from the Goulburn Murray region from the time of Yorta Yorta man William Cooper’s petitions in 1887 and then in 1937 to King George V. 


North East Arnhem Land is also one of our Empowered communities regions. Galarrwuy Yunupingu’s giant leadership on this over a long period continues to inspire us to achieve change. The Yolŋu’s 1988 Burunga Statement still hangs in Parliament. It is a foundational document and starting point for this current debate.


"The current system is broken. All the data and evidence show it cannot deliver the outcomes we need. As an extreme minority of only around 3% of the nation’s population, Indigenous people struggle to have our local voices heard. On the ground we remain excluded and disempowered, yet this is exactly where real change must occur. 


"We want to play an active role in solving the serious problems our families and communities face, and constitutional recognition through Voice will provide the structural change needed to ensure we can do that. For the first-time responsibility for Closing the Gap will be shared," says Mr Trust, who has travelled from the East Kimberley Empowered Communities region.


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