Victoria’s Aboriginal leaders and hundreds of staff from Victoria’s largest Aboriginal organisations gathered to declare their support for the Voice today.
In an unprecedented show of unified support, they were joined by Australia’s Aboriginal Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy, national Yes23 leader Thomas Mayo, and Sean Gordon, a Wangkumarra/Barkindji man who leads Liberals for Yes.
Jill Gallagher, VACCHO’s Chief Executive, spoke about how the Voice will improve health outcomes for Aboriginal people, citing a survey of 1600 health workers, 80% of whom said that having Aboriginal people more involved in making policy will improve wellbeing.
“Our people are still dying 10 years earlier than other Australians. My Mum, born in 1926, has lived through the harshness of racism with six of her ten children taken away because she is black. I spoke to her about the Voice coming up this weekend and asked what she thought. She told me that she had grown up in a time when there was no hope, but the Voice would bring hope to people, and that hope can be a powerful medicine.”
Rueben Berg, Co-Chairperson of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, said that Aboriginal people no longer wanted to rely on others for their voice to be heard. “We don’t want to rely on the goodwill of politicians, or the goodwill of the media for our voice to be heard. We want the Voice enshrined in the Constitution so it is always there.”
He also spoke about how many Australians have previously asked him what they can do and the referendum is their chance, “Every single Australian out there can help to close the gap by voting yes.”
Jill, Rueben and Marcus Stewart, former co-Chairperson of the First Peoples Assembly of Victoria, answered questions from the media, asserting that it is clear most Aboriginal people support the Voice and hope that most Australians will support it on referendum day.