Referendum 2023: Australia’s date with history

This is a chance to uplift Australia, a chance for Australians to feel proud that we are a nation ready for reconciliation and justice for the First Peoples of this land. Vote Yes for Australia’s future.

Reconciliation Australia welcomes the announcement today that the Voice to Parliament referendum will be held on Saturday 14 October.

The question the Australian people will decide in the referendum is a simple proposition, a matter from the heart.

The question reads “A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”

The Voice is not Anthony Albanese’s idea. The Voice did not come from any politician.

It is the result of many years of deep thinking and consultation within widely diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from across this continent.

It is, as many have described it, a modest proposal from First Nations people to improve their circumstances by providing input into policy and other deliberations in Parliament and by the Australian Government.

The need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in their own lives has been at the heart of reconciliation for decades.

A recent report from the Productivity Commission found that the gap in social and economic indicators between First Nations and other Australians is not closing, with only four of the 19 targets on track to be met.

The Commission identified Governments appearing to have not “grasped the nature and scale of change required to accelerate improvements in life outcomes” as a key reason for the lack of success.

A Voice to Parliament would alter this equation and allow for the opinions of ordinary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities to be properly heard, resulting in better policies and better outcomes.

Listening to those on the ground, in the cities, the towns and remote communities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia as Governments formulate laws and policies that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia is a matter of common sense.

We can no longer have business as usual because the business is not working.

With a Voice the conversation between First Nations peoples and the rest of the country continues.

Reconciliation Australia urges all Australians of goodwill to inform themselves, to find out the facts and not be swayed by the misinformation and lies being spread in the lead up to 14 October.

We urge supporters of the Voice to get active, speak to your neighbours, your family, friends and work colleagues. Call out misinformation and racism when you see it.

We call on all community leaders, including politicians, to approach the debate in a respectful and truthful way, and above all else avoid stoking the sort of vitriolic racism that has defined much of the debate thus far.

The reemergence, in this debate, of racist stereotypes about First Nations peoples is causing damage to Australia’s fabric.

Over the next weeks of the campaign, we urge unity before division, respect before abuse and truth above misinformation.

This is a chance to uplift Australia, a chance for Australians to feel proud that we are a nation ready for reconciliation and justice for the First Peoples of this land.

Vote Yes for Australia’s future.

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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