Community Leaders Gather at Aboriginal Advancement League To Deliver Emphatic ‘Yes’

Sep 11, 2023

Revered First Nations’ leaders from across the state have united to deliver a powerful show of support for a ‘Yes’ vote to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

A strong turnout of Aboriginal leaders and allies gathered in front of the iconic murals at the Aboriginal Advancement League yesterday, where they implored Australians to seize the once in a lifetime opportunity to galvanise this country when they head to the polls on October 14.

The leaders in attendance delivered an emphatic message for Australians – the overwhelming majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people support a voice whilst expressing hope that the majority of all Australians will support the Voice on referendum day.

Wurundjeri-willam artist Mandy Nicholson’s stirring Welcome To Country was followed by a captivating performance from the Djirri Djirri Dance Group.

Several prominent leaders delivered heartfelt statements including Aboriginal Advancement League CEO Dr Esme Bamblett, First Peoples Assembly of Victoria Co-Chair Rueben Berg, Djirra CEO Antoinette Braybrook AM, VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher AO, and former First Peoples’ Assembly Co-Chair Marcus Stewart.

Marcus Stewart told the crowd in attendance that a ‘Yes’ vote from Australians woudecld “truly change the barometer for Aboriginal people.

“It will give our kids the same start at life as every other Australian and that’s what is critically important.”

First Peoples Assembly Co-Chair Rueben Berg said the Voice will deliver better outcomes for Communities.

“These remarkable leaders from Community standing behind me want a voice. We do not want our issues to continue to be a political football. We do not want to be relying on the goodwill of politicians – and on the goodwill of media for our voices to be heard. We want our voice in the constitution so it will always be there.”

Aboriginal Advancement League CEO Esme Bamblett said a successful ‘yes’ vote would be “amazing and exciting” whilst paying tribute to her late Nan.

“October 15 is my late-Nan’s birthday. My grandmother fought valiantly to have her voice heard in this country. I want to wake up on October 15 and say ‘Happy Birthday Nan – they voted yes.’”

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher AO declared that she had faith that Australians would vote yes – as they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

“Having an Aboriginal voice to parliament will elevate our ancient and contemporary cultures to take their rightful place in this country – but more importantly take their rightful place in this world alongside the ancient Greeks and the ancient Egyptians.”

VACCHO would like to pay tribute to the inspiring Aboriginal leaders from across Victoria who attended yesterday’s special event for their generosity, leadership, and vision.

Read the Aboriginal leaders’ declaration of support for a “Yes” vote here.

More information on the Voice here.

Media enquiries

For further media enquiries please email or contact our media unit on (03) 9411 9411.


VACCHO is the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing in Victoria – the only one of its kind – with 33 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as Members. VACCHO Members support over 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria, and combined are the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the state.