Australia has chosen to ignore its First Peoples by saying no to recognition, no to unity, and no to meaningful progress. In voting No, Australia has missed a once in a lifetime opportunity. We have failed our First Peoples by choosing fear over change.
The outcome of this referendum will be felt for years to come. It places us at risk of reversing any progress made in closing the gap between health, education, employment and justice outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
This feeling of bitter disappointment is sadly nothing new for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The referendum outcome represents yet another squandered opportunity to address the inequality we see in our communities.
“A No vote means that nothing will change for us – that we have looked at the evidence presented, and as a nation, agreed to keep the status quo,” says VACCA CEO Muriel Bamblett.
“It says that we are comfortable with rising rates of child removal, of poorer health, education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal people. That we don’t care about our young people being grossly overrepresented in the justice system, of rising rates of homelessness and disadvantage in our communities,” she continued.
What is needed to close the gap and progress Treaty is a Voice, but once again our advice has been ignored and our voices have not been heard. The chance for recognition in our lifetimes has been lost.
“We have let ourselves be led by fear. We have not listened to Aboriginal voices,” says Ms Bamblett. “As a nation we have let racism divide us. We have made excuses and allowed ourselves to believe that saying Yes was too much and not enough at the same time. Disappointingly, this is the result. It is Aboriginal people who will once again bear the brunt.”
Despite progress towards Treaty and Truth-Telling, Victoria has fallen short at the critical moment to achieve recognition and the progress that a Voice would deliver.
“We should take time to grieve the outcome, and what we could have woken up to on October 15,” says Ms Bamblett. “In spite of a No result, we will continue to keep Aboriginal issues on the agenda. We have survived despite continued efforts to erase us. We will continue to fight for our children’s futures, and for our communities to thrive.”
- ENDS -
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 16 Oct 2023
Beth Cesarin – Senior Manager, Communications and Public Affairs
T: 0439 117 408 / E: email@example.com
Sarah Gafforini – Director, Office of the CEO VACCA
T: 0427 621 421 / E: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT VACCA - www.vacca.org
The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) is the State’s leading Aboriginal child and family services organisation, and the largest provider of services for Aboriginal family violence and homelessness. We have been supporting children, young people and families in the community for over 45 years, as an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO).
Through our vision of self-determination – Live, Experience, and Be – we exist to support culturally strong, safe and thriving Aboriginal communities. We deliver over 70 programs across Victoria including child and family services, family violence, support for stolen generations, child protection, cultural strengthening programs, mental health, financial services, justice and redress support, early years and homelessness services.
We acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we work. We pay our respects to their elders, past and present, and to their children and young people who are the future elders and caretakers of this great land.