The Voice to Parliament
Readers and long-time followers know that we have long championed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives, their businesses and fashion brands. One of the reasons we get out of bed every day is to recognise those diverse talents in the field of fashion and design who have been overlooked for multiple decades by mainstream fashion platforms. That especially includes First Nations people.
Naturally, we are voting Yes in the referendum on whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be recognised in the Australian Constitution through a Voice to Parliament. Here’s why.
1. It’s What Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples Asked For
First Nations peoples asked for a Voice to Parliament in the Uluru Statement of the Heart, after 15 years of consultations within communities. The majority, over 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, support it. Previous advisory bodies were abolished when Governments changed. A Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution will mean that while the nature of the advisory body can change, it will not be abolished on the whim of a new Government or Minister.
2. What’s Wrong With Recognition in the Constitution?
The Australian Constitution currently excludes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. It was written under the false premise of “Terra Nullius” – nobody’s land.
However, a race clause exists in the Constitution: Section 51, Clause xxvi This allows the government to make laws based on race. Governments have only ever used it in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“Look at this this way: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are the only people for whom the government makes specific laws that apply to nobody else. So its not unreasonable that the government hears their point of view before it makes those laws. That is the Voice.”– Marque Lawyers
Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. One of those rights, is the right to self-determination. A Voice to Parliament would help ensure that happens. There will be no compulsion for successive governments to implement advice received through the Voice.
In our view it is a moral imperative for equity to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution. This is an important step in reconciliation. It is the right thing to do.
3. Listening Achieves Better Outcomes
The huge gap in ALL quality of life measurements between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people is not closing fast enough. Infant mortality, suicide and incarceration rates for Indigenous Australians are disproportionate in the extreme and are among the highest in the world. Life expectancy, health, employment, housing and education levels are comparatively low in the extreme for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is a human rights issue: everyone is entitled to a reasonable quality of life.
Professionals and academics have found when rolling out their projects in Indigenous communities that their rates of success are vastly improved when they have listened to the people who are to be impacted by their projects. Better results are always achieved after first listening, and it is clear that policies based on what non-Indigenous people think is good for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people hasn’t worked very well. It is more likely that lives can be saved, improvements to the quality of life for First Nations people will improve with a Voice to Parliament. We believe that listening to advice from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about matters that affect them will result in better decisions by governments.
For more information: Go to: YES 23 or get hold of The Voice to Parliament Handbook by Thomas Mayo and Kerry O’Brien
Featured Image: Richard Milnes, Alamy. All other images: @yes23au
Stacey Pallaras, Publisher, COCKTAIL REVOLUTION