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Yes, one small voice and vote at a time.

This will be the last time I will write about ‘the Voice’. It feels so surreal. Listening to Peter Dutton and his fear politics, riding the back of political opportunism, then hearing Pat Dobson, riddled with cancer, almost begging us to listen deeply to our Aboriginal brothers and sisters.

Simple: The question is oh so simple. 1. Recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of Australia. {No brainer there – their 65,000 + year history gifts and enriches us all} 2. Create the space for a body which MAY make representations to the Parliament on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. {No brainer there – create a forum where their voice can be clearly heard on matters that directly relate to them – the important change though this time – is that because it will be legislated that body will not come and go upon the whim of party politics!} 3. And at all times it will be the Parliament who will have the final say – not only on the matters that the body may put forward but the very composition of the body, its functions, powers and procedures!

Fear: The politics of fear is so sad – it is truly the lowest common denominator – and we are better than that. Fear belittles us. Fear robs us of our dignity. Want an example of this fear?! Only last week someone said to me, “If this Voice things gets in they can get rid of Australia Day and make it Invasion Day instead!” NO THEY CAN’T. That is 100% rubbish. Firstly not only would the body not concern itself with such issues when they have momentous questions about Aboriginal health, education, employment and more to address – but even if they did ‘suggest’ a change to Australia day – the 100% power in this matter is with and always will be with the Parliament of Australia.

Division: The politics of fear mongers continually play the division card. The Voice has the potential to make us more united and more one than ever before – but a true unity and a true oneness. In my last blog I spoke about equality and equity. The Voice will bring equity and with it unity.

Equality is where we treat people exactly the same despite the many presenting innate differences. Equity on the other hand, recognises our shared dignity and oneness as brothers and sisters in the human family, but also recognises that we have different needs. Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. In the proposal we will vote on, The Voice (the body) may make representation to the Parliament about equity issues that deeply effect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people.

So, as we reach the home strait, sadly, I am yet to hear one genuine, real, non-fear based reason as to why YES is not a great idea. I’ve heard lots of rubbish like, “If you don’t know, vote no!” That is like saying, “If you don’t know how to read and write, stay away from school!” Find out! It is so important and there are hundreds of non-fear based websites that spell the questions out clearly and simply.

But most importantly this Saturday is so important morally, spiritually and emotionally for who we are as Australians. It is not a matter of blame – but our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have some of the world’s worst health and educational core data. In addition to this – there are layers and layers of intergenerational trauma – a trauma based upon abuse after abuse after abuse. There is so much pain. And this pain not only effects our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people it also lessens us – it lessens all of us! They are our brothers and our sisters – and when they are hurting, we too hurt, when they are robbed of dignity, we too are robbed! And from their pain and trauma they are simply asking for a Voice in the matters that specifically and directly effect them: they are their own experts in matters that relate to them – so let’s listen!

What would Jesus do? A bloody good question. What I do know is that on every page of the Scriptures he walked to the edge, to the lepers, to the dumb, to the blind, to the excluded, to the banished, to the marginalised, to the poor, to the powerless, to the oppressed. And after he had walked to the edge, what did he do? He sat with, listened to, reached out to, included, healed, encouraged, hugged and loved.

I hope on Saturday we let go of ego and vote with humility. I hope we become aware of superiority and listen. I hope we see beyond ‘us’ and ‘them’ to our shared brotherhood and sisterhood. I hope we put aside the glib throwaway lines of political expedience and listen with the heart to our brothers and our sisters asking to be heard. I hope we believe we are better than this – together as one. I hope we know that ‘no’ never heals and answers but confines and binds. I hope we risk YES and the adventure to a better Australia that will come from it.

Nothing more to be said. Nothing more to be done. Just to vote ‘yes’ and then trust and hope, love and believe – one small voice and vote at a time.

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