A note from Keisha Leon, founder of Cause/Affect.
With the Voice just around the corner and knowing that silence never made history, I thought I’d share my personal take on the referendum…
And before you wonder/so there’s no room for doubt, I’ll be answering ‘yes’ to the question.
I favour the case for ‘yes’ because I’m a proud Waanyi and Kalkadoon woman AND an informed individual — Meaning, I recognise that past treatment of First Nations people was unacceptable.
Historically, biased constitutional laws, government inaction and a lifelong national ignorance has negatively impacted First Nations people
In the same breath, I also recognise that there’s a lot of commentary on the Voice and we’re all ‘short on time’. So before you vote — at a minimum — please do these two things:
- Visit the Voice website, top search result on Google.
- Read all points listed below.
We Deserve a Seat at The Table
Right now, the government makes all decisions for First Nations people. Yes we may have pre-existing advisory groups, but the government has the power to say who’s involved.
Recognising an advisory group in the constitution is the only people-first solution to this problem. Voting ‘yes’ gives First Nations people a seat at the table AND ensures decisions for us are made by us.
Hopefully this change will also recognise and mobilise more constitutional advisory groups, impact law and policy, better allocate funds and resources to First Nations people – particularly grassroots organisations and communities, and set the foundations for treaty and truth-telling.
Our Country NEEDS Change
Previously, the nation has told us that we’re nothing. That we’ll never amount to anything. That our history does not exist.
The stereotyping, misinformation and fear mongering narratives that are present within both history and the ‘no’ vote are an ugly reminder of the racism that our Australian identity is built upon.
Our nation hides behind mateship, fair-go and larrikins; living in purposeful ignorance to the genocide and trauma that is still perpetuated today. First Nations people are blissfully ignored and wilfully forgotten.
Establishing a Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice responds to the loud call for change. It helps us seek sovereignty in our own Country, empowers First Nations people and guides the nation through the first steps towards reform. Saying ‘yes’ to constitutional change paves the way for a better future.
We are resilient, we will continue to be resilient
Regardless of the outcome, we will continue to be resilient. Everyday I think of my family;
Who have pushed through adversaries to create better lives for their families.
Who selflessly honour culture in everything that they do.
Who put people, community and Country first, always.
Who fight every day for a better future.
If the result is ‘no’, continued ignorance and racism won’t stop us. It never has. If the answer is ‘yes’, we’ll seize the opportunity and affect positive change.
It’s the future I want for my son.
When I think of the future, I think of an Australia that my son is proud to be part of. A country free of racism where he can stand tall as a Waanyi & Kalkadoon man and make decisions for himself — which is a privilege most Australians already have…
What I don’t want is for him to be fighting the same fight in 30-50 years time.
I’m a pessimist and I don’t often believe things will change. Not because I don’t believe in change, but because all too often the world beats you down until you have no hope left and the nation reminds us that we’re standing alone.
Despite this, I’m choosing hope…
Hope that the nation wants to be better.
Hope that this opportunity will lead to a change that I’ll get to see in my lifetime.
Hope that we have a better future to look forward to.
Whatever you vote, make sure you favour knowledge and conviction, not ignorance and influence.
And for the sake of my/our/First Nations people’s future — the one that you’re deciding on — don’t stand with those who want to see us erased.
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