How five young Indigenous people feel about the Voice to Parliament — in their own words
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Five years ago, more than 250 Indigenous leaders signed off on the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
They called for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution — which would represent First Nations people to advise government on Indigenous policy.
Now, that wish could become reality with the Albanese government committing to a referendum next financial year.
We spoke to five young Indigenous people in Western Australia about their hopes, questions and concerns about the Voice, and what it means for the future.
Perth-based Noongar Wongi hip-hop rapper and youth worker.
I think if the voice to parliament, in its perfect form, comes through, then it could be something really good. Something that can be exceptional and can really change the environment for First Nations mob. But that's if it plays out the way that everyone hopes it will.
The Prime Minister has revealed a proposed set of words to be added to the constitution for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The Opposition says the move is positive and next step is to explain how it would work. Here's what we know so far.
I think that also being a community member and Blackfella myself, we're quite quick to be sceptical about these sorts of things, because we've experienced throughout our lives all these great promises that haven't become fruitful because politicians … become complacent.
It feels like there's a big movement behind this now … so there is a hopefulness. But I think it is warranted that we are constantly asking questions.
What's good for one nation? Is that good for another mob on another side of this of this country? Does the process end up finding common ground for everybody?
I know a lot of young people in my age group and mid-20s aren't really talking about it. I think that there needs to be more push to actually inform our young people, because they are our future leaders.
How terrible would it be if this comes through and it doesn't work for our mob?
That'd be devastating. It would feel like just another thing that they tried that never worked for us.
What is crucial is that the people on the community grassroots level are actually heard.
Today … I was talking to my cousin and he's in jail right now.
He said, "Yeah", he'd heard a little bit [about the Voice] actually because he listens to the radio a lot.
And he said, "I've got plenty of things that I would love to solve".
It made me think he's here on Noongar Boodja … if his voice was somehow heard on a high level, would that apply to everybody else around the country too?
The other thing was, he's in jail, does anyone even care for what he's got to say?
That really broke my heart. Who gets looked at in this Voice? Is there anybody that's going to be excluded?
Yamatji man and medical student.
I'm in two minds about it, to be honest.
I'm almost at the point where, until I see something happen or come of it, it's hard to be optimistic and get excited about these things, because you just get your hopes up, and then get let down. But … you never stop fighting for it and backing it.
At the same time, we're still having to ask the Australian public? We need to move forward. It's not about taking over. It's about having a seat at the table, an equal seat at the table and an equal voice.
I think there should be more information released. The entire nation needs to discuss these topics more.
It's not good enough to just be like, "Oh, we're holding a referendum. Boom".
There are people who are really pushing for it. But there are people who have lost hope around these things.
I think this time, it's different. The world is different. There's a Black Lives Matter movement, there is a greater understanding and awareness on a global perspective. And I think Australia has taken or needs to take more notice.
There are also a lot of up-and-coming students and Indigenous people in positions where they have a voice. And I think we'll make some real progress soon. I truly believe that.
Noongar woman from the Whadjuk, Ballardong, Yued and Wardandi countries.
I feel like [the Statement and the Voice is] the epitome of love shown from the First Nations of Australia, with a lot of generosity and patience to non-Indigenous Australians, from all walks of life, to say, we want to figure out this with you. We're sovereign, you're sovereign, it coexists.
The way that it's been … from our governments isn't working. We don't have any say … yet they impact us directly, the laws and policies. Please help give us this voice, so that we can work through these really difficult times and discussions together.
The concern sits with if [the Voice] is denied.
I think there'd be so much hurt within our communities to say, "Oh, you know, non-Indigenous Australia doesn't want us to have that say, and what impacts us".
1. There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
2. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to parliament and the executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
3. The parliament shall, subject to this constitution, have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
More than 60 of the country's prominent Indigenous voices gathered for crucial talks with the prime minister on Thursday to discuss the timing, question and education campaign around the Voice to Parliament.
People who will eventually, if ever, become the Voice, are not elected because of a political party … through the Western system. They will be responsible and have to answer back to the First Nations community.
If we get the policies right, if we get the legislations that come from this … you eventually have less waste, because you don't have money consistently going in and out of these policies being made … and failing.
I would hope that my children could take where we're at now, have this [referendum] pass, and actually [be] working towards things that build our community.
Not worrying about incarceration rates, not worrying around deaths in custody, not worrying around these huge health gaps, because we've sorted it out through the Voice.
This was a gift from First Nations peoples to non-Indigenous Australia, and it's to make sure that your children grow up alongside our children.
They're all safe, they've all got the same rights, and they're respected amongst each other.
I hope people just think with their hearts and act out of love and not out of fear.
Noongar Yamatji man based in Perth.
I think it's something that will invariably bring out better outcomes, not just for Indigenous Australia, but for Australia as a whole.
I think society flourishes when the people who have been held back historically — when they've got the same opportunities as everyone else.
When you have generations upon generations of negative policy towards Aboriginal Australia, you need to have policy to bring up Aboriginal Australia.
The Voice will be a crucial part of that.
One of the criticisms coming out from opponents is that it's a third body of Parliament, which is not accurate and I don't think you want that.
I think it's important that the governments making policy are listening to it, and treating it with respect and understanding that Aboriginal people understand how to solve Aboriginal issues.
I personally would like to see more detail myself about exactly what's proposed.
There'll be an opportunity for the country to grow, whether you're Indigenous or non-Indigenous, and not necessarily move on from what's happened in the past, but our future generations will have more opportunity, better outcomes.
Aboriginal woman and Miss NAIDOC 2022.
[The consequences of not having the Voice now are] if you look back over the last few years you can see how many deaths in custody there has been. And, you know, there was a lot of media about children being moved from the Banksia [Hill Detention Centre] prison to the high adult prison.
That's just horrible for children, and to have no Aboriginal people in that position to stand up for our people and say, "This is wrong". That's a consequence that we've all had to suffer with, and deal with in media.
I think one of the biggest things is if people [in positions of power] don't actually understand what Aboriginal people have been through, they can't really know how to break the cycle, or make it better, or help these people, because they don't understand where we've come from, or what we've had to deal with.
If we had more Aboriginal people in that position, I think things would be able to … get changed instead of putting us to the backburner.
We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn, and work.
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How five young Indigenous people feel about the Voice to Parliament — in their own words