The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.
As the oldest continuing living culture in the world, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a rich and deep connection to culture and land through which they have built strong communities and families that keep children safe and able to thrive. Through the devastating impact of colonisation these bonds have been intentionally damaged and undermined. Australia’s now 122-year-old constitution still doesn’t recognise our first Australians.
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. This is important because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and bodies have called for voice for close to 100 years.
A Voice to Parliament will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are heard on the issues that affect their communities. It will be a route to help inform policy and legal decisions that impact the lives of First Nations people. Giving people, who know their children, families and communities best, a say will lead to more effective results.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people understand the best way to deliver real and practical change in their communities. When they have a say through a Voice, we can finally start to close the gap that still exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians on practical issues like life expectancy, educational outcomes, and employment.
This is what the Australian people are now being asked to decide: Should we recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in The Constitution, with a Voice?
This is why a “Yes” result is important. This is why NAPCAN supports a Yes vote on this referendum.
For every child in every community to have a fair go, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must have their culture, languages and deep spiritual knowledge of the land acknowledged and valued. This will be the start to a better, fairer future in which we hope to see a drastic reduction in the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in contact with child protection bodies and juvenile justice, and in self-harming at alarmingly young ages. Together we can all make a difference.