Embracing The Future: Why I'm Voting Yes
Three key reasons compel me to vote Yes at the upcoming Referendum on the Voice. Each of them highlights the importance and benefit to all of us in acknowledging, including and empowering Australia's First Nations peoples.
1. A Modern Constitution for a Diverse Nation: Honouring Our Shared History
Australia is a multicultural and diverse nation, with a rich human history that stretches back an astonishing 65,000 years. Our Constitution needs to reflect this and the modern Australia that we have become. When the Constitution was penned in the late 1800s, Australia was still hanging on to the principle of terra nullius, that no-one was here. This was what the British used to colonise this place as a penal colony. It led Australia to completely ignore our ancient continent and its original peoples. Finally now we embrace and celebrate our First Nations and their unique histories and cultures. By voting Yes, our Constitution can truly reflect the reality of who we are now as a nation. Not how the British defined us in the 1800s. Our founding document can be a true reflection of our national identity. Something that honours our past and embraces the future.
2. Amplifying Voices, Restoring Balance: A More Representative Democracy
A central pillar of any robust democracy is equitable representation for all citizens. The Voice to Parliament will provide First Nations people with a platform that is long overdue - it will enable First Nations issues, aspirations, and needs to be communicated directly to Australia's politicians and senior policy makers. Big businesses and special interest groups have powerful lobby groups with fancy offices and special access passes to Parliament House that allow them to influence decision makers behind closed doors. The Voice will help level-up the playing field. It will be a vital step towards a more inclusive and representative democracy, where First Nations voices - our first voices - are also included. Only then will every voice, regardless of background, be given the respect and consideration it deserves.
3. Effective Policies, Efficient Use of Resources: Saving Money Through Empathy
Australia spends billions on Indigenous programs, yet poverty and disadvantage persist. It's clear that the current approach isn't working. Over the years, First Nations peoples have been treated like political footballs. Different governments have spent huge amounts of money abolishing and reestablishing different mechanisms as they've come and gone from power. We've been spending the money, rather than investing it. The Voice will stop politicians from constantly moving the goal posts. It will enable the very people most affected to have a say on the issues that directly affect them. A shift towards listening and empathising will increase program effectiveness, address root problems and provide better outcomes. Importantly, Australia will save huge amounts of money by avoiding wasteful and ineffective programs. Instead of throwing money around like chook food, taxpayers money will be invested strategically - on things that have been identified as needed. On things that work.
To sum up, the Voice is really about our Constitution catching up with the Australia we have become rather than the Australia we once were. By recognising and including First Nations peoples, the Voice will promote policies for them that are more cost-effective. It will help Australia move towards a brighter and more equitable nation for all. The referendum is an opportunity to stand together in unity, embrace the power of diversity, and shape Australia into a nation that truly reflects our values.
There's a lot of misinformation out there. So if you feel confused, don't be hard on yourself. But what ever you do, don't "vote no because you don't know". That would be giving your power to the politicians and letting them decide for you. My article Myths and Realities on the Voice might help you in making an informed choice.