The Board and Executive of Neami National supports the establishment of a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.
For far too long the voices of Indigenous people have been overlooked and unheard, and while constitutional enshrinement of a Voice to Parliament will not resolve all the challenges we face as a country to heal the wounds of the past and work together to create a better future with First Nations people, the Neami Board believes this is an important step in the journey.
A body enshrined in the constitution will ensure that, irrespective of the political environment, Indigenous representatives can make submissions and voice a viewpoint that takes into account First Nations people’s perspectives, needs, concerns and aspirations.
We have arrived at this position after speaking with our First Nations staff and we acknowledge the deep trauma they feel and conflicting views they hold on The Voice.
Neami National believes in First Nation self-determination, empowerment and autonomy and we hope we have embodied these values in ensuring we as a non-Indigenous organisation do not assume to speak for a community with the diversity, complexity and limitlessness of our First Nations brothers and sisters.
We have instead listened to those Indigenous voices within our organisation who speak for themselves and guide others through their view on a subject that will ultimately impact their lives and the lives of their families for generations to come.
As expressed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart we believe this substantive constitutional change and structural reform will deliver a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood for all.
As Australians it is important for us all to undertake this journey and educate ourselves on the complexity of this referendum and vote from the heart.
However, we also acknowledge that Australia is the only colonial/settler society without a Treaty between the State and its Indigenous people, and we call on the Commonwealth Government to establish a Treaty as the next step to truth telling and reconciliation.