Case for a YES vote in Referendum – A message from Noel Pearson

Dear Desi Community,

On 14 October you will have the opportunity to vote Yes to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution through a Voice.

Australia is a country blessed by its multicultural success and unity. Australians with connections across the globe, have made this country home. In so doing, they have enhanced and enriched Australian society.

Australia has provided opportunity for many to reach their full potential. The Desi community knows how important it is to have such opportunities to succeed—for yourself, your family and your children.

However, the unique history and position of Indigenous Australians in Australian society means they remain locked out of many of the opportunities from which other Australians have been able to benefit. The parlous position of Indigenous people in Australian society is reflected in the real gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in life expectancy, infant mortality, health, housing, education, and employment.

Many Indigenous Australians don’t have the opportunity to get a good start in education, are half as likely to find employment, and one in three live in poverty. Indigenous Australians live eight years less than other Australians on average, and live more than 20 years less in remote communities. Indigenous Australians have an infant mortality rate double that of other Australians.

For far too long, politicians have made decisions for Indigenous communities rather than with them—leading to policies that communities knew would never work and meaning problems still haven’t been fixed.

We need to bridge the divide that has been baked into the parlous position of Indigenous people in Australian society. We need to do something different to help create opportunities for Indigenous Australians to reach their full potential.

We know that when Governments listen to people, they get better results and make better decisions. A Yes vote on 14 October makes better results possible.

A Yes vote will:

1. Achieve Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first peoples of Australia.

Most Australians have long wanted to see this recognition in our nation’s rulebook, which currently does not mention the fact of Australia’s 65,000 year Indigenous foundation before the British arrived.

2. Achieve Recognition in a meaningful way, by guaranteeing Indigenous Australians a Voice. The Voice is advisory only, but will ensure Indigenous people can be heard when decisions are made about them.

The referendum is a simple request, directly from Indigenous Australians. This opportunity to say Yes to an even better Australia has been decades in the making and is supported by more than 80% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

You might have heard confusing information. The Voice doesn’t make new laws, or control funding. It is not part of Parliament, but is outside of it, so it does not change our democratic system. It is not going to affect anyone’s land or property rights. It is not about more taxes, or more money for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Voice will simply provide informed advice to Government on issues that affect Indigenous Australians. Through recognition and listening we will get better results.

A Yes vote on 14 October makes it possible. 

Yours Sincerely
Noel Pearson

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