On Saturday 14 October, a referendum on amending The Constitution of Australia to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament will be put to the Australian people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have more than 60,000 years of connection to this continent. Their continuous stewardship acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the longest surviving continuing cultures in the world. Putting the Voice in the Constitution would mean that the Australian people formally recognise that history and status.
Australia is the only first-world country with a colonial history that doesn’t currently recognise its First People in its Constitution. Globally, advisory bodies like the Voice have already been created in Norway, New Zealand and Canada. Previously, the Australian Parliament had established three national Indigenous representative bodies which empowered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to speak to government about laws and policies that affected them. However, in each of the three cases, the representative body was abolished after several years. Putting an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice into the Constitution will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ right to participation in decision making that affects them.
Positive Life NSW acknowledges the diversity of views amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and that voting in the upcoming referendum is an individual decision that will be taken by all Australians.
Positive Life NSW was established on principles of respect, capacity-raising, inclusivity, consultation, and diversity and we believe that through a Voice to Parliament these ideals will strengthen the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in matters that affect them and create a fairer and more equitable Australia.
We believe that this will produce individual and community-wide benefits that contribute to addressing the social determinants of health through inclusion, consultation and support. We will always support First Nations peoples’ right to self-determination and right to participate in decision-making in matters that will affect First Nations peoples and communities.
Consistent with Positive Life’s ongoing commitment to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the acknowledgment of their meaningful representation, consultation and participation in solution and decision-making processes by and for themselves, Positive Life NSW supports a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.
We encourage our community members to respectfully share information and conversations about the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the First Nations Voice to Parliament to support people to make informed decisions in the upcoming referendum.