9 October 2023

Senator's say: Don't be afraid to vote Yes on Saturday

| Cape York Weekly
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Senator Nita Green with Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney in Cairns on Saturday.

Written by Cairns-based Senator Nita Green, Australian Labor Party

We live alongside the oldest continuous living culture on the planet.

A culture that has survived for tens of thousands of years on this continent.

And that culture runs deep in Far North Queensland.

Art, song, stories, and language fill our landscapes with colour, reminding modern Australia of the deep roots First Nations Australians have with these lands.

From Cairns to the Cape and the Torres Strait, we experience a side to Australia that few could understand without experiencing it first hand.

But no matter how much respect we have for Traditional Owners and their culture, for generations we have made choices for them – some that have left lasting and painful impacts.

Now, we have a chance to truly make an historical step forward.

For the last couple of weeks remote polling on the Referendum for the Voice to Parliament has been taking place across the Cape and the Torres Strait.

And as we head into the final week before October 14 I wanted to reach out to people in Cape York and give them the confidence to write ‘YES’ on that ballot paper.

The Voice is about two simple ideas. Recognition and listening.

Recognition within the constitution and listening to communities for better results.

Constitutional recognition through a Voice is about improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Listening is about giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders a say in the matters that affect them, so better policies can be made.

It’s that simple.

But such a simple proposal will mean a world of difference for the next generation of Indigenous kids.

We already know how much of a difference consultation with First Nations Australians makes, we see it daily through Indigenous Rangers programs on and along the Great Barrier Reef, throughout Cape York and across Australia.

The Voice will deliver practical change on the ground – in areas like health, education and housing.

And it will be a unifying moment for Australia.

We can’t change the past, but we can move forward together.

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