AV calls on you to choose ‘Yes’ at the ballot box

AV calls on you to choose ‘Yes’ at the ballot box

Statement from Anglicare Victoria on the forthcoming referendum

Last month, the Australian Parliament passed the proposal to hold a referendum within the next six months that asks the Australian people whether we should provide constitutional recognition to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and whether a Voice to the Australian Parliament be established as part of this process.

As we approach this referendum, Anglicare Victoria (AV) reaffirms its commitment to reconciliation, as outlined in our Reconciliation Action Plan 2023-2025. We recognise that this referendum is an important moment in Australia’s history, and that it requires our active engagement.

Following extensive conversations and consultations with various stakeholders, including AV employees, the AV Aboriginal Staff Network, the Aboriginal Children’s Forum, ACCOs, and Auntie Pat Anderson, Co-Chair of the Referendum Council, AV has reached a clear position.

We strongly encourage Australians, including our employees, supporters, and clients, to vote YES in the referendum.

Arriving at our position, we accept that questions remain on how the Voice process and associated representational structures will work. We recognise that any proposal may not be perfect. However, we believe that establishing a Voice to Parliament is an essential and long-overdue step for Australia.

Currently, Australia is one of only a handful of Western nations that lacks a formal arrangement or mechanism for dialogue between its first people and government. A YES vote in the referendum will rectify this historical shortcoming.

Furthermore, we believe that saying YES at the ballot box will be a transformative step toward reducing the significant disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The existing systems to date have shown limited capability to rectify this imbalance, as evidenced by the latest Closing the Gap report, which revealed only 4 of the 19 targets are improving. It is crucial to address this disparity to ensure a better future for all Australians.

A formal Voice to Parliament presents an opportunity for a new dialogue, a new way of listening, and a new formal structure to address the pressing issues that the current systems have failed to adequately resolve. In the words of Auntie Pat Anderson, “disadvantage and displacement for our mob will continue if nothing fundamental changes in the way dialogue happens between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the Australian Government”. A Voice provides a mechanism for listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Answering YES to the referendum question will also be a further step to Voice, Truth Telling and Treaty as outlined in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. All three are integral components of a nation-defining journey between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the broader population.

We sincerely hope that our AV community, including our dedicated employees, loyal supporters, and valued clients choose YES on polling day. Together, we can walk hand in hand with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people towards reconciliation.

In closing, we want to acknowledge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and clients, and the burdens they may carry because of the national discussion and lead up to this referendum. Let it be known that we are here to support you during this challenging national discussion and vote.

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