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Australia still needs a First Nations voice — it’s time to listen and act

YSAS continues to say Yes to a Voice to Parliament for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia and supports a Treaty in Victoria.

This is because we have listened to our Aboriginal colleagues and partners and leaders from First Nations communities who have spent a lifetime fighting for recognition of their profound and ancient ancestral ties to the lands and waterways of this country. 

The truth is that First Nations peoples have held sovereignty over this country for more than 60,000 years and it was never ceded. This is beyond dispute and recognised by all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but I acknowledge that some didn’t support the Government proposal for a Voice to Parliament. Even so, consensus among leaders from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention was that:

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. 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 are proud at YSAS to be connected through Bunjilwarra with Dickie Bedford, who was a signatory to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. His video message in support of a Yes vote, reminds us of powerful reasons why the fight for recognition and Aboriginal self-determination must continue.

If you haven’t read the Uluru Statement from the Heart you can listen to Professor Megan Davis read it to you. It only takes 4 minutes 40 seconds. It is both beautifully read and very moving.

On a positive note, the vast majority of young Australians listened and voted Yes.

It’s also time for us, as an organisation, to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and act on their advice. YSAS is in the early stages of developing a formal agreement with Dardi Munworro, a local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation, to provide us with First Nations cultural advice. We will also continue to work closely with our other Aboriginal partners like Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency and Dandenong & District Aborigines Co-Operative.

Finally and most importantly, let’s back up and support our Aboriginal colleagues, who might need some time and space to work out how to deal with the majority No vote and what means for them, their family and their community. 

Let’s all stick together.

 

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