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Push for Kimberley to back the Voice gathers momentum

David Prestipino -

One of the nation's most prominent land councils will continue its push for the Voice to Parliament in a region uncertain about its consequences.

The Kimberley Land Council has helped establish more than 30 native title bodies across the WA region since 1978.

KLC chief executive Tyronne Garstone said a series of strategic workshops and presentations from key speakers would begin tomorrow in Broome for communities and businesses in a region divided over whether it will improve the lives of First Nations people, who make up 37 per cent of the Kimberley population.

"We are lucky in the Kimberley to have such a diverse community and to achieve a successful referendum, each and every one of us must play our part," he said on Friday.

"We hope people will feel inspired and energised to return to their communities with ideas for how they can get involved and even run their own grassroots YES campaigns.

"We can all play a role in creating long-lasting change, a once in a generation moment to unite our nation."

The KLC gathering is aimed at building a groundswell of momentum amongst a cross-section of the Kimberley community, some who have been a part of the campaign for a long time and others just beginning their involvement.

The YES23 campaign mirrors a similar workshop held in March in Adelaide, where information and resources about the Voice proposal were shared across communities.

Mr Garstone said constitutional recognition through a Voice would provide symbolic and practical change after last month criticising Federal Opposition leader Peter Dutton's active 'no' campaign, calling it an affront to First Nations aspiration in a column for The Australian.

"A Voice will give us a real shot at having an ongoing, constructive conversation with politicians and bureaucrats about what works and what doesn't," he wrote.

He wrote the referendum was currently being treated as "run-of-the-mill politics".

"Anthony Albanese versus Peter Dutton, Labor versus Liberal; the kind of politics that fails Indigenous people year on year, election after election," Mr Garstone wrote.

"We are at the forefront of climate mitigation, using traditional knowledge and modern science, something we have been supporting through Indigenous fire management for more than a decade."

KLC chairman of nine years Anthony Watson, a Nyikina, Mangala, Jabirr Jabirr, Yawuru and Karajarri man, said the constitutional recognition would help First Nations people achieve equality and create a system for them to flourish and prosper."

"For many years ... we have spoken loudly about our desire to sustain our communities, revitalise our laws and customs, and seek self-determination," he said at the Joint Select Committee for the Parliamentary Inquiry for the Voice referendum on Tuesday.

"But we don't feel that we have been heard.

"It has been a rough journey fitting into this new system. A system that has not given us protection, has not included us in decision making and has locked us out of many opportunities."

Australia will hold a referendum later this year on having an Indigenous Voice to Parliament written into the constitution.

The Yes for a Voice workshop in Broome will be followed by a free family-friendly, community BBQ from 5pm to 6.30pm at Goolarri.


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