The WACOSS Board has unanimously agreed to support the ‘Yes’ campaign for constitutional recognition for First Nations Australians through a Voice to Parliament, at a Board meeting held on Friday 24 February 2023.
Almost six years ago, First Nations leaders from across the country came together at the National First Nations Constitutional Convention at Uluru. The Convention delegates drafted and overwhelmingly endorsed the Uluru Statement from the Heart on 26 May 2017, which calls for a constitutionally-entrenched First Nations Voice to Parliament, and a Makarrata commission to oversee a process of treaty-making and truth-telling.
Embedding a Voice in the Constitution would recognise the special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia’s history, but importantly would also mean that it can’t be shut down by successive Governments. The process for establishing a Makarrata Commission, and ultimately commencing treaty negotiations, has already begun.
As the peak body for the community sector in WA, and as an ally, it’s important for us to show our support for a Voice to Parliament
A Voice to Parliament will give First Nations communities a route to help inform policy and legal decisions that impact their lives into the future, including treaty negotiations.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart that has informed this process was a collective decision made almost six years ago by First Nations leaders and Elders from around the country after a long period of discussion and consultation.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart calls for a Voice, followed by Treaty and Truth-telling and, as allies, it is not our place to question the order that was agreed to during that process.
We respect that there are different opinions on this process, but believe that we ultimately cannot miss this historic opportunity nor call for a different approach in the face of so much community support including from First Nations representatives on the WACOSS Board.
A Voice to Parliament will give First Nations Peoples the best position from which to negotiate a treaty, or treaties, moving forward and we will do whatever we can to support this process going forward.
We encourage all of our members and community service organisations to do the same.
A word from our First Nations Board Members
Laurel Sellers, WACOSS Board Member, CEO Yorgum Healing Services, Noongar Leader
“It is a simple proposition; all we are asking for is to be recognised in the Constitution and be given a voice in the decisions made by government that impact us.
“This is really a first step in what is a long and important journey towards treaty and truth-telling. Once we have the Voice, then every nation will have an opportunity to participate in the process going forward.”
Renna Gayde, Walbunja Yuin woman, WACOSS Board Member
“The Voice to Parliament referendum is an opportunity for all Australians to walk with First Nations People on the journey towards Voice, Treaty and Truth.”
WACOSS Elders and cultural consultants, Aunty Millie Penny and Aunty Charmaine Pell, support the Board’s position and the Voice to Parliament.