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Enshrined voice will end 'cycle of begging' for Indigenous rights

Tom Zaunmayr -

An enshrined voice to parliament would end generations of being forced to "beg" government for money and policy change to benefit Indigenous Australians.

Speaking at an Uluru Dialogues forum ahead of the Statement from the Heart's fifth anniversary in May, referendum council co-chairwoman and Alyawarre woman Pat Anderson called on parliament to honour the "nation-building" statement.

Ms Anderson said Indigenous people were sick of having to beg and justify themselves to a revolving door of politicians.

"I am not going to beg anymore," she said.

"We have to go back again and prove to the latest minister, the latest government, even if there is a change in senior bureaucrats... and whoever comes in we go back to ground zero as though the last few years have never happened, so we never make any progress.

"It is like we are running on the spot - It is ridiculous, it is absurd, and there is no reason I can see the public won't accept this gift offered to them, a pathway towards a reconciled nation."

A referendum for an enshrined voice has been backed by Federal Labor, but the incumbent Liberal-National Government is pursuing legislating a non-constitutional voice to parliament.

Ms Anderson said the voice would give Indigenous people a real say over their own lives, something the existing system had failed to do.

"With COVID we weren't at the table â€" that won't happen again if we get the voice to parliament protected by the constitution," she said.

"We won't have to rely anymore on the goodwill of a politician or department head or current minister for whatever, it will be a given."

Indigenous representatives from across Australia have converged on Cairns for two days this weekend to discuss progression on a referendum for an enshrined voice to parliament.


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