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On October 14 we will be asked to vote YES

First Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing stands in support of a YES vote.

As Australians, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose through an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

On October 14, Australians over the age of 18 will be asked to vote in a referendum on whether we choose to change the Constitution to recognise First Nations people through a Voice to Parliament.

The Constitution is like Australia’s rule book – defining the powers and structures that govern our country. It can only be changed by special direct vote of the Australian people.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the Constitution has long excluded us. The Constitution does not recognise Indigenous peoples as the first peoples of Australia, nor does it make sure that when decisions are made about us, we have an opportunity to have a say.

Lots of Australians – both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal are in support of the YES vote. They say YES to changing the Constitution to recognising First Nations people. And YES to improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – not just accepting more of the same. Even with all this support, it’s tricky to be successful in a referendum. That’s because we need two things to be successful. We need the majority of Australians to say yes. But we also need the majority of Australians in at least 4 states to say YES. That’s called a double majority.

Out of 44 questions put to a referendum in Australia’s history, only 8 have been successful.

It’s time to harness all the support for the YES vote that we can. Some people are saying ‘if you don’t know, vote no’. Some people think there’s not enough detail about what the Voice will look like to be able to vote YES. But it’s normal for the details of a change to be worked out after a referendum. All referendums just pose a question, and ask whether the people agree or disagree with the principle. And who could disagree with the principle of wanting to improve things for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians?

Some people say, ‘but not all Aboriginal people are voting YES’. Well of course not! There are over 800,000 of us and no one can expect us all to agree. However, the Voice proposal is a wonderful consensus position. It came out of the Uluru Statement from the Heart which involved thousands of First Nations people from hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In developing the Uluru Statement, Indigenous people had the most extensive, well-informed and well-formulated constitutional dialogues we’ve ever had.

The priority in all regions and in the consensus reached at the Uluru National Constitutional Convention was to Constitutionally enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament. It is the culmination of a decade of consultation. The Uluru Statement from the Heart – the invitation to accept our Voice – is written to the Australian people. And through the Referendum, we take this invitation to millions of Australians to let them know why we have invited them to walk with us. This nation-building opportunity at a Referendum is not a government idea. It is a gift from Australia’s First Peoples.

FPHW stands in support of the YES vote because we know a change in the Constitution will mean our Voice to Parliament can never be taken away. It will ensure our Voice cannot be silenced or ignored as Indigenous voices have been in the past. It’s important that all voters understand that voting YES will benefit Indigenous peoples in a practical way. It will also strengthen our democracy and society.

What can you say to people who tell you they are voting no? You could ask them what they think they’ve got to lose. You could ask them why they don’t want to see things improve for Aboriginal Australians. We want to help inform Australians and counter misinformation. We support respectful dialogue about Voice, Treaty and Truth so that everyone can seek the answers they need to inform their opinions.

On October 14, we will be asked to vote YES. To choose whether Australia is a mature nation, unique in the world with over 60,000 years of unbroken civilisation, or a young nation at merely 122 years since Federation. It is a choice between improving the lives of First Nations peoples, or accepting more of the same.

If we miss this opportunity, it may be generations before there is another chance. Please join us in voting YES!

For media enquires:

Karinda Taylor

Chief Executive Officer

0477 622 210

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