In a few months, Australians will vote in a referendum to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. CSMC is supporting a Yes vote in the referendum – here’s why.
Where did The Voice proposal come from?
Two hundred and fifty Indigenous delegates met at Uluru for the First Nations’ National Constitutional Convention in 2017. Together they agreed on long statement, now known at the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
It has three key objectives:
- Voice to Parliament
Then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull immediately dismissed it. He has since apologised for not having given it serious consideration.
Why CSMC is supporting a Yes vote
The proposed Voice to Parliament is based on the idea of self-determination.
Since Australia was colonised by the British who said the land was “terra nullius” (Latin for “land belonging to no-one”), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been told by others what is good for them – with devastating results. If instead colonists had listened and made a treaty with the local people, we might have equality and partnership among all peoples of Australia that would benefits us all, along with fewer environmental disasters.
Self-determination is significant for Council of Single Mothers and their Children. For over 50 years we have seen how single mother families thrive when mothers are empowered with choices and resources to make their own decisions and to define their own lives. Self-determination is at the heart of everything we do, and it is the defining principle of the Voice.
Recognising the Voice in the Constitution will ensure future governments cannot remove it, as they did when the Australian Parliament passed legislation to abolish ATSIC (the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission) in March 2005.
The Voice means First Nations communities can give advice to Parliament and the government about issues that affect their families and communities, in line with the principal “nothing for us without us”.
Our statement reflects the values of the Council of Single Mothers and their Children and the guiding principles of our work. We hope it encourages all single mothers to think seriously about how they will vote in the referendum.
As single mothers, we all have our own opinions on issues and so do Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Not everyone agrees the Voice is the best way forward. We recognise and respect other views.
The ABC website has a summary of the Voice and arguments for and against.
How will the referendum work?
It is compulsory by law for all eligible Australian citizens aged 18 and older to enrole and vote in federal elections and referendums.
The Australian Electoral Commission website has information about referendums and how they work.