Dissent to dialogue – reclaiming the Voice

Words by Flynn (he/him), 19 QLD 

We have a date! The referendum on a First Nations Voice to Parliament has been locked in for October 14. With that date not being far away at all, you’d think it’d be safe to assume that voters know what they’d be voting on, and why it matters. However, misinformation is on the rise and because of it, it seems people still have more questions than answers.

I’ve recently moved from Central Queensland to the New England Region, both generally conservative areas.

‘They’re trying to take away our land!’

‘They want to divide our country!’

‘It’s rigged, use a pen instead of a pencil!’

All of these are statements I regularly hear in my day-to-day life. Of course, none of this has any basis in truth. It’s all been flung around by politicians and groups against the Voice in order to sew dissent and misinformation. What we are seeing is no longer a rational discussion, but instead a descent into political point scoring and insult.

We have clearly lost sight of what this is all about.

How many of us have taken the time to talk to First Nations people?

How many of us have taken the time to listen to what they have to say?

This is a problem with people from both sides, who seem to just blindly follow what the leader of their political party tells them to.

I can confidently say this isn’t about the views of Anthony Albanese or Peter Dutton.

When I vote, it won’t be on what a politician believes. This is about the views of Indigenous Australians. I’m voting on the beliefs of First Nations people who have had their voice repressed for so long.

What’s the point of a Voice if we aren’t willing to listen? Now is the perfect time to start.

For me, that means I’m voting Yes.

Yes! to recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution, and yes to providing them with a Voice.

Unfortunately, like many others, I believe that the Voice does not do enough. We need to go further with a treaty. Yet, the majority of Indigenous peoples are telling us that the Voice is a start.

It is a step in the right direction on a path we have shamefully failed to begin.

No, it won’t fix anything overnight, and nobody is claiming it would. But if this referendum passes, the Australian community as a whole will have begun to walk that path of respect and inclusion for all which has been sorely absent in the past.

It is important to acknowledge not all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are voting yes, with there being a building movement of a progressive no vote. Even though I have chosen to vote with the majority of those Indigenous peoples I have spoken with, it is not my place to tell these campaigners that they are wrong. All they are doing is approaching this from a different perspective. It is not my place to attack them, instead their opinions must be respected.

This is so much more than politics, and we cannot keep approaching it as such.

The fear.

The division.

This is the complete opposite of what the Voice is about.

In a landscape full of misinformation and political point scoring, I call upon you to listen.

Not to the politicians. Not to the media.

Listen to those that don’t have a voice.

Listen to those whose voice we stole along with their land.

Then, and only then, will you be making the right decision.

Illustration by Aileen. You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenngstudio

Posted in