In this blog, our CEO David Ritter explains why Greenpeace wholeheartedly supports writing “Yes” in the upcoming Voice referendum.

Australia is home to the oldest continuous culture on earth. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been caring for land and sea Country for millennia.

This year, Australians are being asked to vote in a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution and to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific wholeheartedly supports writing ‘Yes’ in this referendum.

This referendum follows the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Statement – which is surely one of the most beautiful and poetic documents in Australian history –  makes clear that “with substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.”

In December 2020, Greenpeace Australia Pacific formally accepted the generous open invitation contained in the Uluru Statement, to walk forward together as part of a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

Today, again, we express our full support for writing ‘Yes’ in the referendum; yes to a better future where First Nations people have a greater say in issues that affect First Nations communities.

Our shared hope 

Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s mission is to secure an earth capable of nurturing life in all of its magnificent diversity—a vision that can only be lastingly achieved with a more fair and just world, putting people and nature at the heart of decision-making.

It is a statement of the obvious, that for the First Nations people of this continent, fairness, justice and equality have not been realised, because of the continuing legacy of colonisation, ignorance, racism and discrimination.

First Nations people have been caring for Country for millennia. The leadership and participation of First Nations people is essential in shaping policies that protect our climate and future generations.

But Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander expertise and perspectives are not adequately represented in shaping national policies.

First Nations communities are also on the frontline of climate change impacts, such as worsening droughts, bushfires, and floods.

But unfair government policy prevents them from having an equal say in policies that affect them.

We know that policies are more effective when those affected have a voice. This referendum is a step in the right direction towards substantive change in improving how policies are made.

Writing ‘Yes’ to a Voice to Parliament would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a genuine say in the creation of the laws, policies and programs that impact upon their rights; and to ensure that their voices are heard by decision-makers who, for too long, have discounted the voices of First Nations people.

I am confident that a ‘Yes’ vote, leading to the establishment of the Voice to Parliament will also achieve better outcomes in environment and climate—as well as health, education and justice—by ensuring that First Nations communities are represented in shaping national policies.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific reaffirms our continuing support for the Voice to Parliament, and urges our members and supporting community to vote ‘Yes’ in the upcoming referendum.

Let’s write ‘Yes’ to move forward from our past and progress together towards a brighter future.