The 2023 Referendum and respectful conversations

The 2023 Referendum and respectful conversations
Simon Harvey

“… good information and good listening will produce a good result for all Australians …”

At the most recent Kensington Association meeting we unanimously supported the following motion – “that the Kensington Association formally endorse federal constitutional recognition for First Peoples through a Voice to Parliament as a first step towards justice and self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders”. 

For the past three editions of North West City News the Kensington Association (KA) column has focused on issues around “reconciliation” and the coming referendum. We consider that respectful conversations are of critical importance in this period leading to the Referendum – probably in October. 

Teaming together with the Kensington Reconciliation Action Group (KRAG) and other community groups, we have set ourselves the task of facilitating such conversations. 

While we are advocates (soft or strong) for the YES campaign, rather than sermonise, our aim is to provide good information and good listening to community concerns.  

We believe this will minimise divisive or partisan interaction, as well as best promote the YES campaign. To that end I would like to point readers to some excellent sources of information. 

Reading (or listening to) the Uluru Statement from the Heart from 2017 National Constitutional Convention is an important first step. I find it inspiring.

For me, what jumps out of this statement is its generosity. After explaining about the ancestral link to the land, the Statement follows with ... 

“This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown … we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.”

Wow … that’s like owning and caring for your farm for 300 years and being prepared to share that “ownership” with someone who rolls up with guns and takes over your farm. The raiders then kind or share it with you but treat you abominably and try to eliminate you. But after just one year you (the original owners) say that you are happy to share ownership of the farm for the benefit of everyone.

There has been some bemoaning of the lack of information about “the Voice” and why the federal government has not given much detail. The following link takes you to an excellent presentation – “Everything you need to know about the Voice”.

The KRAG and KA wish to encourage respectful conversations with all members of the community, to that end some of us will be putting up our hands to host “Kitchen Table Conversations”. See Although part of the YES campaign you will discover these are open and respectful of different perspectives and give everyone a chance to listen and learn.

For more information:

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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