Thursday, October 19, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
It was a historic day last week, as Australians went to the polls for a vote to change the constitution for the first time since 1999.
The people have spoken, and their collective voice resonates, clear and unwavering. As the referendum on the Voice to Parliament concludes, the result was no, for the voice of the people is a cornerstone of democracy. Every state and territory, except for the ACT, voted no.
It appeared to be a widely understood sentiment that while the nation may not be prepared for this particular step, the will to improve the wellbeing of First Nations peoples remains strong.
My personal opinion was that the Federal Government failed to fully educate the Australian people about what they were voting for. Too many people were confused about what a Yes would mean and there were complex issues muddying the waters. The Prime Minister, or any politician, chose not to appear in our neck of the woods to talk about the Voice and our publication didn’t receive any correspondence from the Federal Government to assist our readers. I think it’s failed marketing to ignore your regional constituents and believe that endorsements by big business or celebrities can influence everyday people into changing the constitution. It’s like asking someone to sign a contract without letting them read it first.
In the wake of the referendum outcome, Beyond Blue Chair Julia Gillard, reflected on the importance of this moment for Australia. First Nations peoples experience significantly higher rates of psychological distress and suicide. Regardless of how we voted as individuals, it is essential to remember that the referendum outcome may be distressing for many. It’s a time to be kind.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart extends an invitation to walk hand-in-hand with First Nations peoples toward a brighter future. Regardless of our individual experiences and views, it is through the values of fairness and respect that we can truly unite as one nation.