Our Chance to Be Part of Australia’s History – And Future

30 August 2023

“We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”

This is the invitation Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people extended to all Australians in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

On October 14, we all have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to accept this invitation and change our country for the better.

The Statement made the modest ask for recognition of this land’s First Peoples in the Constitution through a Voice to Parliament.

The Voice will offer ideas and advice, so governments can make better decisions to address the challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It will be an advisory committee, made up of representatives from across the country.

The Voice will not have the power to make or veto government decisions.

What it will do is improve outcomes in Indigenous health, housing, education, and employment.

For too long, governments with good intentions have spent billions trying to deal with these issues.

But they haven’t achieved lasting improvement because they haven’t listened to people on the ground.

The current approach is broken and the Voice is our best chance to fix it.

The overwhelming majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people support the Voice.

But it will take Australians saying Yes to make it real.

Voting Yes is a vote for recognition, listening and for better outcomes.

Voting No closes the door on the opportunity to move forward.

It is fitting that Adelaide is where the Prime Minister chose to announce the date of the referendum and launch the Yes campaign.

South Australia has often been well ahead of its time with important change, it was the first place in the world where women had the right to vote and stand for parliament.

Now we have the chance to make another important change.

We know that progress towards equality never comes easily.

There will always be those who resist change.

Just like there were those who resisted voting rights for women, or marriage equality.

During the marriage equality debate, I’d often say that the day after it happened, the sun would still rise, kids would still want more ice-cream, but Australia would have done something profoundly important, to make our country a better place.

Now we can look back and see that it helped make us a more accepting, diverse and inclusive nation.  

I hope when the sun rises the day after the referendum, it will rise on a stronger, more united Australia.