While Australia debates the merits of a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous Voice to Parliament, the fact is that since white settlement, the First Peoples of Australia have continued to face stark disadvantage.
Indigenous people are hugely over-represented in our family violence refuges, making up around 10 per cent of our clients.
The Board of Refuge Victoria has formally endorsed the Uluru Statement of the Heart and a Yes vote at the upcoming referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation from First Nations people, asking Australians to walk together to build a better future by establishing a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission for the purpose of treaty making and truth-telling.
As an organisation of family violence professionals, we understand that in order to move towards safety and equality, it is necessary to speak truth to power and acknowledge injustices of the past. We feel honoured to have been invited, through the Uluru Statement of the Heart, to participate in this truth-telling and treaty process.
As a family violence service, we also know that the path to a safe and happy future can only be forged when it is based on self-determination. It’s a fundamental principle of the services we deliver in refuge – and it is also the defining principle of the Voice.
The Voice will ensure First Nations communities can give advice to Parliament and the government about issues that affect their families and communities.
An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament will help us as a nation take steps towards delivering a better future for the whole country.