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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

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The Quest for Indigenous Recognition

2023 - The Referendum
by Linda Burney, Minister for Indigenous Australians

w e are at a defining moment in our history.

We have within our grasp the chance to make a positive change that will benefit this country for generations to come.

Australia is home to the oldest continuing cultures on earth—something we should all celebrate. But Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians currently have no place in our founding legal document, the Constitution.

On October 14 we will all have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to finally address this glaring omission when we vote in the referendum.

Constitutional recognition through a Voice is the best chance we may ever have to make a structural change that addresses the injustices of the past and improves the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

We know that gaps in life outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians aren’t closing fast enough, and some are widening. We live shorter lives, are more likely to have health problems, and our children are less likely to finish school or go to university.

We need to do better.

So when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders came together in 2017 to write the Uluru Statement from the Heart, they proposed a different way to do things.

The Uluru Statement says:

When we have power over our destiny, our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution. The Voice is an idea that came from communities and is supported by more than 80 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Essentially, the Voice is about getting the best possible advice from the ground. It’s a way for us to listen to communities about what will make a practical difference to their lives. Because when you listen to people with local knowledge and expertise, you get more effective solutions.

The referendum should be a unifying moment for Australians, one that elevates us above political point scoring.

Winning the referendum won’t be easy—national defining moments rarely are.

But I have faith in the goodwill and sound judgement of the Australian people.

My hope is that by referendum day, Australians will overwhelmingly vote ‘Yes’ to recognising Indigenous Australians in the Constitution, ‘Yes’ to improving practical outcomes through a Voice, and ‘Yes’ to a more united country.


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