AURUKUN mayor Keri Tamwoy says a Voice to Parliament would give First Nations people around Australia a say in decisions affecting their health, education and living conditions.
“We have very educated and wise people within our Indigenous communities in Cape York who can bring grassroots knowledge and experience to inform the body that will report to parliament,” she said.
“When we do anything new there is always a feeling of uncertainty because we don’t know what this new thing looks like.
“We are supposed to be together as one nation. That means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be treated as equals.”
Last week, the referendum date was confirmed for October 14.
Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said that all Australian citizens aged 18 years and over were required by law to enrol and vote in the first referendum in nearly a quarter of a century.
“Any federal Referendum is a significant moment for the country, and for voters, with only 44 conducted in our nation’s history,” he said.
Cr Tamwoy said a yes vote was critical for Cape York residents.
“First Nations people are simply asking to be recognised in the Constitution and to be heard,” she said.
“We are asking for Australia to support its First Nations people by voting yes.
“When we have elite politicians sitting in parliament, especially Indigenous representatives, who are so against the Voice, I ask why?
“Is it because they feel they will be irrelevant when the grassroots people finally have a voice?
“I can guarantee that these elite Indigenous Members of Parliament have never set foot in remote communities in Cape York and the Torres Strait.
“They would have no idea what it is like to live in one of the most disadvantaged communities in the country.
“A change in the Constitution to recognise our people through the Voice would guarantee First Nations people will be heard.”