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  • Writer's pictureMark J. Keenan

10 reasons why I will vote YES

Updated: 2 hours ago

On Saturday October 14, Australians will vote for or against a change in the country's constitution.

This is not something to take lightly. A constitution is document which underpins how the country is governed and declares the essential rights of its citizens.

The change which we will be voting on is the addition of a new section with the wording below:

"129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:

(i) there shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;

(ii) the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;

(iii) the Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures."

I will be voting YES to this change and, over the next thirty days leading up to the referendum, I will be adding my reasons for this decision below:

1. A consensus of First Nations peoples of this country have asked for this voice.

Following the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, asked all Australians, including me, for a First Nations Voice to be established and enshrined in the constitution.

The statement says:

"We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution."

The full statement can be viewed and heard here. A spoken word version, created by Midnight Oil and a number of prominent First Nations people, is here.

2. Healing takes courage.

I feel many emotions when it comes to the First Nations people of Australia.

  • Shame at the ways First Nations peoples have been, and continue to be, maltreated.

  • Guilt for the part my forebears had, intentionally or otherwise, in creating ongoing intergenerational trauma.

  • Anger at the systems and organisations which have manipulated and destroyed lives.

  • Admiration for those, First Nations and others, who have been a part of truth-telling.

  • Envy of the connection to nature and to life which is an integral part of their being.

  • Pride for the small parts I have actively played in shifting things to a better place.

  • Sadness at my failings to do more.

  • Inspiration from how far we have come since my youth in acknowledging the connection of First Nations peoples to this country.

  • Disappointment at how much remains undone.

  • Hope for a collective courage across our nation in creating a future where we are can ALL heal.

Tori Amos:

"Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it."

Jimmy Kyle (Chasing Ghosts):

"Dig, dig, dig a little deeper. Dig until your nails bleed."

3. I want my grandkids to be proud.

And their children, and their children’s children too.

  • I want them to know that wrongs can be righted, that wounds can heal.

  • I want them to see that what they think, do, and say can make a positive difference.

  • I want them to feel they are a part of a connected country and a harmonious nation.

  • I want them to be proud to live on land where humans have been for over 60000 years.

Liz Stringer, The Things That I Now Know:

“Will I ever know great knowledge, is it even mine to take I dreamt I saw an answer and a child was its face

I'm sorry, I'm sorry, and my children will be too

If I don't do any better with the blood that's in my bones”

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