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Burney urges 'Yes' vote 'in the name of Elders'

Samantha Lock -

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda has made a heartfelt appeal for Indigenous people to support the Voice referendum "in the name of elders" across the country.

Ms Burney urged a sold-out crowd at the National NAIDOC Week Awards ceremony in Brisbane on Saturday night to get behind the 'yes' campaign and "get this done".

"We have the chance to make history and open a new chapter for our country to recognise and celebrate more than 65,000 years of history and culture," she said.

Ms Burney said the Voice referendum was a "once in a lifetime opportunity to take Australia forward".

"How often do you get to put your shoulder to the wheel of history and give it a good push?"

Billed as the "First Nations night of nights", the NAIDOC awards herald the start of NAIDOC week celebrations, with this year's theme "For Our Elders".

Ms Burney said a 'yes' vote for the Voice would "honour so many of our people over generations who have campaigned for change, to have our voices heard".

"Let us all take this country forward, recognise that this is a historical year for our nation and let's get this done in the name of elders all over our country," she said.

Aunty Dr Naomi Mayers OAM, a proud Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri woman, received the NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award at Saturday's ceremony for her work to advance Indigenous health.

The award is given to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person who has dedicated their life to their community.

Ms Mayers is a founding member of the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW and the Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern - Australia's first Aboriginal medical service.

She is also a founding member of The Sapphires, the ground-breaking all-Aboriginal music group.

In a video message played at the awards, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Voice referendum was a chance to make history and change the country "for the better together".

"The theme of NAIDOC Week this year is 'For Our Elders' - one that symbolises the respect that you give elders in the community," he said.

"And with the referendum this year, Australians will have the opportunity to vote yes - to vote yes for respect for Indigenous Australians, to express our pride of sharing this continent with the oldest continuous culture on earth.

"On referendum day we can bring our country together.

"A yes vote will do just that."

NAIDOC week will be celebrated from Sunday to July 9.

Samantha Lock - AAP


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