On 14th October 2023, Australians will have their say in a referendum on whether to change the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to parliament and government.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice would be an independent and permanent advisory body. It would give advice to the Australian Parliament and Government on matters that affect the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, such as education, health, housing, justice and other policies with a practical impact on First Nations people.
Following discussions at our College Council and within our Student Club, as the Principal, Chair of College Council, and President of the Student Club, we are proud to affirm our support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, with its call for a Voice to Parliament, and to articulate our commitment to ensuring that our College community is a diverse, inclusive, equitable, and culturally-safe community for all, where everyone is treated with fairness and respect and valued for their unique experiences and contributions.
We believe that a Voice to Parliament is a first step in the journey towards better outcomes for First Nations people and a brighter future for all Australians. Independent research studies consistently show that between 80% and 90% of First Nations people surveyed support the Voice to Parliament.
As a College founded on the key principles of intellectual enquiry and equity of access in higher education, we believe that it is our responsibility to provide access to reliable information and resources and opportunities for members of our community to engage in rigorous yet respectful discussion. Most recently, we were pleased to welcome Naarm Law Students on Voice to facilitate a neutral, fact-based and myth-busting information and discussion session for our current students.
We encourage you to visit the University of Melbourne’s VOICEfacts website, which offers a series of short videos by Laureate Professor Emeritus and JCH Fellow Cheryl Saunders, providing clear and concise information to help Australians make an informed decision on the Voice later this year.
The University of Melbourne and the Anglican Church of Australia, with which the College is affiliated, have both publicly declared their support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart and a Voice to Parliament.
We recognise that there may well be diverse perspectives and different opinions within our community, and we fully respect the right of each individual to vote in accordance with their own values and principles.
With our warmest wishes at this moment of historic significance for our nation,
Dr Eleanor Spencer-Regan (Principal) on behalf the College
Ms Clare Pullar (Chair of College Council) on behalf of the College Council
Ms Della Knight (President of the Student Club 2023-2024) and Ms Ayva Jones (President of the Student Club 2022-2023) on behalf of the Student Club
On Saturday the Australian people voted ‘no’ in the referendum on enshrining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice in the Constitution of Australia. We know that many members of our community will be deeply hurt and disappointed by this result.
The College, Council, and Student Club affirmed support for the Uluru State from the Heart with its call for an indigenous Voice to Parliament, and we remain deeply committed to doing our part to improve opportunities and outcomes for indigenous students in higher education in the future. We are also committed to providing opportunities for all members of our community to educate themselves about the history of our nation, and about how they can play their part in this important and ongoing journey towards reconciliation.
Like many institutions we are on a path towards becoming a more informed, supportive, and culturally safe space for our Indigenous students, and we would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to those organisations and individuals who have taken the time to share their experiences and expertise with us during this time. We appreciate that your cultural load has been particularly heavy in recent months and we hope that you are able to find rest, comfort, and strength in your families and communities.
Murrup Barak will be available on Monday 16 October for all Indigenous staff, students and graduate researchers of the University of Melbourne as a safe, Mob-only space, to seek respite, yarn, or to find a quiet place after the referendum. Additionally, support services are available for Indigenous students, their families and communities to access at the University’s Safer Community Program and e-safety First Nations, 13Yarn, Yarning Safe N Strong.
Our College is situated on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, whose stories, educational practices and connection to Country are part of the world’s oldest living culture. We acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, and pay our respects to Elders past, present and those emerging in our community.
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