2482

Submissions: Your Feedback

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Submission Number
2482
Participant
Shepparton Region Reconciliation Group Inc
Submission date

Shepparton Region Reconciliation Group strongly supports the notion of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and believes that having this enshrined in the Constitution reflects the important status of the First Nations people of this country whilst ensuring the Voice is not able to be watered down, or negatively impacted by change of governments.
We are extremely disappointed in the current government’s lack of support for a Constitutional Voice but acknowledge the co-design group’s pragmatic work to advance the move to strong, unimpeded Voice.
The concept of a two-tier Voice - Local/Regional Voice and National Voice – with additional involvement from under-represented or marginalised groups such as young people and those with disabilities seems to allow for greatest representation of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples. This is crucial to the success of the Voice. It must represent all First Nations peoples.
A Structural Membership Link to determine the composition of the National Voice rather than direct election would seem preferable as again, it can help ensure there is the greatest representation across the country.
Whilst we understand the work of the co-design groups is extremely valuable in putting forward proposals that outline possible structures for an Indigenous Voice at both national and Local/Regional levels for Australians to consider, we have concerns that a legislated Voice may remain just that - legislated - with the inherent weaknesses this entails.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been calling for representation to Parliament since the 1930's and at every turn, this has been rejected, ignored or in the case of the ATSIC structure, eventually dismantled. The Uluru Statement from the Heart offered the Australian people a generous invitation to walk together to forge a better future and offered the concept of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution. Given previous requests over time fell on deaf ears or, if steps were taken to implement a process that provided input on decisions that impacted on the many nations across the country, these were easily changed or removed by governments, a Constitutional solution seemed obvious.
We also understand the argument that many Australians are unsure of the concept of a First Nations Voice and that implementing an interim legislated structure can provide the population with an opportunity to see how it can function, thereby removing some of the fear/uncertainty if, and when there is a referendum on its inclusion in the Constitution.
However, we are concerned that a legislated Voice may just delay working towards a Constitutional outcome.
The principles that guide Local and Regional Voices as outlined by the Co-design are well thought out and provide a strong framework and guidelines for the necessary arrangements.
We would like to support the Constitutional structure for the First Nations Voice but are acutely aware of the absolute importance of this process being guided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Voices.