October 13, 2023 will be the date of the Referendum to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament into the Constitution. Representatives of the SRC, the SRC Indigenous Officer, and the student body have overwhelmingly been campaigning for a Yes vote in the Voice to Parliament.
SRC Statement: Voice to Parliament Referendum on October 13th, 2023
October 13, 2023 will be the date of the Referendum to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament into the Constitution. Representatives of the SRC, the SRC Indigenous Officer, and the student body have overwhelmingly been campaigning for a Yes vote in the Voice to Parliament. The Voice to Parliament is the first step in a process of Voice, Treaty and Truth, as outlined in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
The gap of inequality between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous people in this country is appalling. Indigenous Peoples are the most incarcerated in the world, and the rate of deaths in custody and police violence is abysmal. Every death in custody, or death at the hands of the healthcare and social work systems is one death too many. It has been far too long with no change for the rightful, ongoing custodians of this country.
Ben Mcgrory, SRC Indigenous Officer states, “A Constitutionally enshrined Voice will give First Nations communities a platform to call out and challenge governments which undermine and uphold racist institutions and policies against mob. We will have the power to do so without fear of the Voice being abolished or being politicized by governments in power. In the past every advisory body set up has been abolished for standing up to governments and law makers. This will give us the authority to advocate for our communities’ needs and help shape laws to protect our lands from destruction, stop children being stolen and start walking together to end this climate crisis. We need to be part of the solution not ignored by current and previous governments.”
A constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament is long overdue, and Indigenous students at USyd have overwhelmingly expressed their desire for a Yes vote, so the SRC is listening. The Voice to Parliament will be an important step towards justice for Indigenous Peoples in this country, however, our advocacy and activism must not end there. We must continue to stand with Indigenous Peoples to end inequality and injustice, and for sovereignty and self-determination. We acknowledge that this time would be a particularly difficult time for Indigenous Peoples, as the right-wing side of politics espouses horrendous racism, which we stand wholly against.
Indigenous Peoples have been demanding sovereignty, self-determination and land back for decades. The student body at USyd has been engaged in many of these campaigns – from Charlie Perkins’ legendary Freedom Rides fighting racism to Bla(c)k Lives Matter. We must Vote Yes in the referendum, and no matter the outcome, the USyd SRC is committed to supporting calls for land back, sovereignty, treaty and truth-telling. Despite evasiveness from the ALP Government on what will follow the referendum, the SRC will continue to fight for treaty and truth-telling as integral parts of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
It is not enough, however, to simply vote yes in the referendum. We must continue to fight for justice alongside Indigenous Peoples at every chance. This extends to opposing Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project, which the government is pushing ahead with despite almost unanimous opposition from the Gomeroi people. Climate justice is inextricably tied to First Nations Justice, so join us in standing with the Gomeroi people on September 14 at the rally against the coal seam gas project.
To get involved in campaigning for a Yes vote in the referendum, follow and get involved with USyd Students for Yes or the myriad of off-campus Yes campaigns. If you are an Indigenous student, you can get involved with the SRC’s Indigenous Collective, an autonomous space for Indigenous students. You can find these linked below, as well as the Uluru Statement from the Heart and Uluru Dialogues. Future protests for Indigenous Justice will be shared by the SRC.
As the Referendum date nears, please remember that respect is essential in this conversation. It is never okay to demand an Indigenous person tell you their position on the voice – or anything else for that matter. Nor is it appropriate to argue and speak over Indigenous students.
The SRC will be running information sessions in the lead up to the Referendum. Stay tuned and we will post the events up on our socials.
Always was, Always Will be, Aboriginal Land.
For requests for further comments please contact:
Ben McGrory, SRC Indigenous Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org
USyd SRC: 02 9660 5222, email@example.com
Links and further resources:
SUPRA explanation on the Voice to Parliament: https://supra.net.au/the-voice-to-parliament-and-the-constitution/#:~:text=The%20Voice%20to%20Parliament%20proposes,Peoples%20to%20provide%20timely%20feedback.