26 May 2023

Voice volunteers to ramp up efforts ahead of referendum

| Sarah Martin
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FIRST Nations volunteers will visit Cooktown and other Cape communities every month to advocate for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, ahead of the October referendum on the proposal.

In March, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the proposed constitutional amendment to recognise First Nations people by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice in parliament, which will be voted on by the Australian public at the referendum.

The proposal stems from a statement made after a series of a dozen regional meetings in 2017, called the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for a First Nations voice in parliament, protected by the constitution.

Kuku Yalanji man Alwyn Lyall, from Mossman, and Yamba Yamba man Eddie Synot will travel to Cooktown and are planning trips farther up the Cape, to answer questions around the Uluru statement and the proposed indigenous voice to parliament.

“You don’t have to be a supporter of the voice to come along, if you’ve got questions to ask, you’re more than welcome to get clarification from us,” Mr Lyall said.

“We’re going to every community in the Cape, we have just got to sit down and map out the route and fit it into the calendar.”

Mr Lyall said the Voice was more about ensuring the government was listening.

“When the government is spending money, we want to be at the table to give advice on the best way to put programs in place,” he said. “We also want to do away with these top heavy so-called Indigenous leaders out there, some of whom are multi-millionaires that make laws for our mob here, but aren’t bound by those laws.”

“We want a voice, but at the end of the day it’s actually about the government listening to us, and they’re not listening at the moment. To get them to listen we need to have it written into the constitution so they are bound by it, they can’t ignore it.”

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