The upcoming referendum is about making a change to the Australian Constitution to incorporate the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The referendum is not about what a voice will look like nor how effective it will be. If the referendum supports a voice, it will be the role of Government to shape the policy of how the voice will work and for the Parliament to debate and pass legislation. If the constitution is changed, then the principle of the voice can’t be undone by future Governments.
The referendum will ask Australians to determine whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are able provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives.
Australian Red Cross wholeheartedly supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the three elements it collectively calls for – a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Australian Constitution, a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement making, and a national process of truth telling. We believe that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are best placed to shape the solutions that will help their communities to overcome the systemic disparities and disadvantage.
Australian Red Cross aspires to walk alongside First Nations peoples and to stand together with them in their calls for systemic change. We do not purport to speak for First Nations people, but to add our perspective as an Australian humanitarian organisation that exists to address humanitarian needs.
The Uluru Statement guides us, and all Australians, on the path forward as determined by First Nations peoples themselves. We are also deeply indebted to Red Cross First Nations’ staff, members, volunteers, clients, partners, Board Members, and our National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Team. They all provide expertise, advice and guidance; and generously share their cultures and traditions with the organisation and its people.
Like many other Australian organisations, we are also taking conscious and active steps to change. We have listened, and will continue to listen to the perspectives of Red Cross First Nations’ people and many external First Nation’s networks, traditional owners, community leaders, and organisations. There is a diversity of perspectives on the upcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament, which represents one of the three elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. That may or may not change in the future, and that is OK – we will still be listening and will adapt our position accordingly.
As a neutral humanitarian organisation, we ask you to reflect and consider the Uluru Statement from the Heart in the upcoming referendum.