15. The Voice Vote

If you’re not in Australia, the post title might leave you bewildered, just as I was when I first heard about the Australian Government’s announcement regarding The Voice Referendum.

To simplify, a referendum in Australia is a national vote seeking public opinion on potential changes to the Constitution.

On Saturday, 14th October 2023, Australian citizens will cast their votes, either ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ regarding the proposed change in question.

The focal point of The Voice Referendum is whether to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice within the country’s constitution, a matter of considerable significance.

The Proposed Change:
This change to the constitution aims to acknowledge and honor the original inhabitants of Australia by creating an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Voice. The indigenous communities in Australia currently feel marginalized, with their concerns inadequately addressed by the government. This marginalization traces back to the colonization of the country, and the indigenous population desires a transformation for the present and future generations.

The Objective of The Voice:
The envisioned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice is designed to be an independent advisory body, offering guidance to the Australian Government on indigenous community-related matters. It will evaluate policies and inform the government about their potential benefits or harm to the communities. The Voice will consist of members from the indigenous community, providing a direct platform for their representation and influence.

Referendum Significance:
Referendums to amend the Australian Constitution are a rare occurrence, having happened only 44 times in the nation’s history. Consequently, each referendum holds substantial weight, as once a change is incorporated into the constitution, it remains effective for a long time, impacting multiple generations. It’s crucial for voters to comprehend the implications and make informed decisions.

The YES and NO Camps:
In this particular referendum, two main groups have emerged: the YES group advocating for Voice representation and the NO group opposing it. The arguments for each side are intricate and can be explored further in numerous online articles.

My thoughts:
I asked a friend of mine, who voted early, about his stance and he said he has no idea about the matter! He voted only because it was compulsory to do so.

The process of making a decision, especially one of such magnitude, is indeed challenging for the common people. Citizens, many of whom lack expertise or interest in politics and history, must decide on matters that can profoundly influence communities and generations. Generally speaking, while conducting a public opinion poll is important, the final decision should be well-informed and based on discussions and insights from experts, including government officials, academics, philosophers, and community leaders. This is what the government is expected to do. Governments should set an example by making well-considered decisions, grounded in knowledge, compassion, and the best interests of the people.

That’s all from me. This is what I am thinking on the eve of the election.

More info:

  1. Official site: https://voice.gov.au/
  2. What is a referendum as per the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC)
  3. A summary of everything from ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

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