From the desk of Luke, Chief Executive Officer. 

This National Reconciliation Week 2023, South Coast NRM has taken time to reflect on issues faced by our Indigenous community.

We deeply value the relationships we hold with the Aboriginal community, organisations, and Native Title bodies that we work with to care for Country and people. This month, the Board of South Coast NRM agreed to support the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution through a Voice at the upcoming referendum. 

The referendum will give all Australians the chance to come together and consider a change to our constitution that will honour and celebrate the rights, history, and ongoing relationship of Indigenous Australians with this land. It’s a rare chance to make a major positive impact, now, and for future generations. South Coast NRM will work with the local, regional, State and National community to share information and bring people together on this important matter. There is certainly much to do and by working together in the spirit of equality we can achieve much. 

Australia has been considering constitutional recognition for more than 15 years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have asked that the form of recognition come through a Voice to Parliament, which will give advice on laws and policies that affect Indigenous people. This is what Australians are now being asked to decide: Should we recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in The Constitution, with a Voice?   

South Coast NRM draws inspiration from the #yes23 campaign.  

A Voice will provide advice to the Federal Parliament about laws and policies, through a consultative policy-making process that delivers meaningful structural change. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know and understand the best way to deliver real and practical change in their communities. When they have a say through a Voice, we can finally start to close the gap that still exists between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians on practical issues like life expectancy, educational outcomes, and employment.  

This is why a “Yes” result is important. 

Australia is a proud and diverse nation with a rich cultural heritage that dates back 65,000 years. The First Australians, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, have deep connections to this land and have played a vital role in shaping the society we know today. But despite this, our constitution, which is 122 years old, still does not recognise the unique and important contributions of the First Australians – it’s time for that to change. The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a call by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for real and practical change in Australia through the establishment of a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament. 

This can only become a reality with a national majority “Yes” vote. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country are coming together to ask for a simple and practical form of recognition – a Voice in the laws and policies that directly affect them. This means giving them a direct line of communication with politicians in Canberra, allowing them to offer practical solutions to the unique challenges they face in areas such as jobs, health, education, and justice. By cutting out bureaucratic red tape and party politics, we can ensure that real community voices are heard and that resources are used effectively to achieve real results. This is a simple and powerful step that we can take as a nation to recognise and honour the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Australia is ready to take this step and unite to shape our nation’s future from the grassroots up. When asked in the upcoming referendum, let’s answer with a resounding “Yes” and truly recognise the First Australians in our Constitution. 

This kind of moment only comes once in a generation, that’s why it’s so important to start a positive conversation with the people in your life. 

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