The Voice has been defeated. What can we do now?

The Voice has been defeated. What can we do now?

With the referendum returning a ‘No’ result, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he will not attempt to legislate the Voice to Parliament. On the other side of the aisle, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has walked back his pre-referendum pledge to introduce another referendum for Indigenous constitutional recognition if elected.

The result has been especially disappointing for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

As Kuwarra Pini Tjalkatarra elder Geraldine Holgarth put it, the result was received like a “knife through your heart.”

“It’s a sad day for us. The grief hurts so much,” she told the Guardian.

Amongst the grief, the Voice to Parliament off the table for now. What are some other ways we can work to support reconciliation?

Support Indigenous organisations

A number of worthwhile organisations are already on the ground, working with Indigenous people where it is needed most. While this list is incomplete, the general principle here is to engage with groups who are led by Indigenous people.

Supply Nation is a database of verified Indigenous businesses. If your workplace requires help with services like catering, office supplies, or facilities management, visit the website here to search by business name or category.

Based in the Northern Territory, the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency provides culturally competent legal aid to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, for both criminal and civil law. To make a donation, and find out more about their work, visit their website here.

The Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) provides culturally appropriate health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS) provides pro bono legal support and campaigns  “for reform of bad laws that harm our communities.” Donations above $2 are tax deductable and can be made here.

BlaQ works to empower LGBT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The organisation accepts tax deductable donations, and also in-kind donations depending on the need of their communities. Donations can be made on the official website here.

Based in Wangal Country/Rozelle, Guniwara offers culturally appropriate programs for Indigenous parents and young children. These include speech therapy, art therapy, nutrition, and health packs, as well as ways to connect to culture. Tax deductable donations can be made here.

Support statewide processes

The federal Voice to Parliament was not the only policy aimed at providing Indigenous people with a means to communicate with government. While federal politics is heading away from the Voice, things are evolving in state politics.

South Australia has already legislated a Voice to their state parliament. The new body will begin in 2024. The SA voice will not have any veto powers, but will engage with the South Australian Government. A First Nations election to decide its makeup will take place on Saturday, 16 March 2024. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be able to vote for their local First Nations Voice representative.

In Victoria, progress is underway for a Treaty between the State government and Indigenous people, a process that would make the state the first in the country with such an agreement.

In Queensland, both the incumbent Palasczuk Labor Government and the Crisafulli LNP Opposition intend to continue working towards a treaty.

Now is a key time to remind politicians that there are voters who support these state-based initiatives.


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