Reflections on The Voice Referendum
23/11/2023 | By Carina Calzoni
It’s been just over a month since the referendum vote. It’s been difficult to grapple with the result, which has left sadness in many people’s hearts. For me, the Voice represented a glimmer of hope that, as a nation, we would rightfully recognise the Aboriginal and Torres Straits people as first custodians of this land and take a step towards addressing the negative impacts of our colonial past. This was a simple ask of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
The result indicated a general lack of awareness and apathy across the country. But for people willing to engage, the Voice referendum created the space for learning more about the First Nation Peoples’ experience in Australia. There were many ways to truly engage in learning – documentaries, panels, books, podcasts, websites, community hall discussions and people were mobilized all over Australia to have conversations with neighbours, friends and family. Personally, I became more engaged through reading (if you are interested, see below for some examples) and listening to some inspiring people such as Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton and Victor Steffensen (I have listed a few memorable podcasts below), and I actively sought out information on the positive work being done on Treaty in Victoria, where I live.
I also connected to some amazing people in my community. On Sunday after the referendum, I attended a post referendum gathering at the Wominjeka Garden (which is a space dedicated to the process of reconciliation with First Nations People) and I was privileged to meet with Uncle Glenn Loughrey – a Wiradjuri man and a talented and inspiring artist, speaker and Writer. If you get a chance, listen to his podcast on The Deep End.
Regardless of the result of the referendum, at Clear Horizon, we will continue our cultural integrity journey by developing a Cultural Integrity Framework and Action Plan with support from our Cultural Integrity and Advisory Group. We will continue to bring our staff along the journey through cultural respect and safety training and discussions facilitated by Sharon Gollan and Kathleen Stacey. We will continue to adhere to the AES First Nations Cultural Safety Framework and principles and we will continue to work in partnerships with First Nations organisations in the delivery of First-nations-led MEL.
The referendum was lost but it doesn’t mean that talking, learning and activism will stop – it has been going on for over 200 years, and the momentum keeps growing. Hope lies in the small things.