FSU member and First Nations Finance Workers Committee member Rina Abbott-Jared is a proud Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay woman. She’ll be voting Yes for a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the upcoming referendum, and shares some insights into why having a Voice is the first step toward empowerment for our First Nations communities…
“I reflect that not every person who has a vote in the referendum will be thinking like a Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay woman like me.
Many may be stepping into this discussion for the first time. It is ok if that is you! You are welcome here.
I often say that truth telling is hard, but truth listening is hard too.
I have grown up with two sets of history. This I am practiced at intellectualising and translating. First Nations communities are in a constant state of grief. I am cognisant that Reconciliation may be a time of grief for many non-Indigenous Australians. You may feel you are losing the identity of the Australia you once thought existed. It might feel new, but it’s not.
With the abolition of the White Australia Policy, Australia has already started down the path of finding its authentic self. As a country, we are already down that road of deconstructing and reconstructing ourselves. As we form this new identity, we are asking for the inclusion of our First People as a mandate, and to have an ongoing voice.
The true measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable.
Australia may need to progress through the grief cycle faster, because while we are imagining our future as a nation, our children are dying. Our jarjums, our Aboriginal kids are more likely to die at birth, to walk out of school illiterate, to be unemployed, to miss out on life-saving medical care, to die from preventable illness and disease, to experience a disproportionate racism tax on their mental health, to be a Black Death in Custody, to be killed in an act of violence, or to just simply die before the age of retirement.
I might be able to save my two daughters, but I need your help to save our others.
Time is a luxury that our kids do not have. My Nanna brought up her children to be activists. The gift she and her generation won in the 1967 referendum was that of citizenship and a right to education. The gift that I want for my kids is that of empowerment and self-determination through a VOICE. It will be permanent, but it is only a very small step.
So why do I believe the Voice will work, when people say it is just not enough?
Of course it’s not enough, it’s just the launching pad. The Voice is one foot forward on a long, long trail. My girls, and I suspect their children too, will have to continue to walk this trail long after I am returned to our Earth.
When people say the Voice is not enough, I say ‘that’s because this is the infinite game’. The Voice is a milestone – it will be a moment in history where we show our true colours, our courage and bravery – but getting the job done will be the actual test of our nation’s true character. This is an infinite game.
Why should I fight for this if some First Nations people don’t even want it. What about the people that say no?
We’ll I’ve got nothing but love for my community. Sometimes tough love, but always love. And the fact that we don’t all agree is something I’m proud of. We must be critical thinkers and not afraid to stand for what we believe. Difference is a natural part of being inclusive in our community. But if we do the math, this is not about a minority vote.
It is about your Vote. Your vision. Your future generations.
This is our chance to say to future generations, that we stood up, we responded to the call, we chose to act, we implemented something that would be the start of a blazed trail. A truly intergenerational solution, to create systemic change but we did it with critical thought, and we did it with confidence, and without fear.
We can’t change the past, but we can change the future.
Does this divide and conquer?
We’ll here is my challenge to you. You can’t love Australia if you can’t love all of it.
I love this country and its people. I have unconditional love for this country, that is exactly why I fight so hard for it and why I fight hard for all of us. The them, the rest, the us, the we, the he, the she, the they. My people are beautiful, and I often think the rest of Australia is missing out on really getting to know us.
Indigenous knowledge will help save this country and planet through the power of our connection with it. The Lore, the bush, the water, community co-design, the animal life (our spirit), the justice, the collaboration, the humour. They are all gifts.
My culture is the gift I wish for you but most of all I wish you love. There is so much love to be found in my community, despite the odds. So the Voice is not about what we lose but about what we will gain.
‘If you embrace all that it is, it gives you so much back in return’ – Pat Farmer
So embrace education yourself. Be a critical thinker, vote with confidence, draw on the energy of those around you to inspire you, fuel you, and empower you. Let’s get through it together and dare to imagine a different future.”
Visit our FSU4Yes website for campaign resources or to pledge your support to vote Yes too.