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Far North Queensland community sessions on Voice continue the dialogue

Joseph Guenzler -

The Uluru Dialogue and FNQ Voice Team held a series of information sessions on the Voice last week, giving communities the opportunity to pose any questions they may have.

The sessions led by Wamba Wamba man and Uluru Dialogue leader Eddie Synot and Kuku Yalanji man and Uluru Dialogue representative Alwyn Lyall were held across Atherton, Cooktown, Mossman, Port Douglas, Kuranda and Innisfail.

Designed to give local communities access to information about the Voice and upcoming referendum, these sessions are part of the Uluru Dialogue's ongoing commitment to raising awareness of the coming referendum for a First Nations Voice at a community level.

"Fundamentally what the Voice means is that we're finally going to be recognised and respected for our rightful place as first peoples of this country," My Synot told National Indigenous Times.

"That cant be underestimated when it comes to not only government decisions but the broader place of who we are and where we fit in this country.

"We need to come to terms with one another in a respectful and engaged way where we can share this country, properly. We've got to be able to find a way forward to negotiate our relationship."

My Synot debunked some common misconceptions about the Voice and its origins.

"One of the biggest ones (misconceptions) is that the this is something that's come from the government and it's a government attempt to tell blackfulla's what to do but that couldn't be further from the truth," he said.

"This is something that's come from a process that started in our community.

"This is the first time in this country's history that our community was able to get together with itself and talk about constitutional reform."

Mr Synot also addressed why the Voice is part of the solution.

"A lot of our mob rightfully expect that there should be a treaty and there should be agreements between our people and the state, but it's not so simple," he said.

"I've got trust in the process that developed the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the people that have been involved in it.

"We've got to be able to start to reform and structure our relationship differently so that treaty can actually be meaningful and have effect."

Mr Synot said that during the information session in Mossman, One Nation supporters in attendance focused on potential negative outcomes and made comments about his complexion.

Despite this experience, Mr Synot believes the Voice and the information sessions are key to opening up a dialogue between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people moving forward.

"We welcome people coming in and we want everyone to be respectful but it enables the conversation to open up so everyone else can hear us respond to that," he said.

"That's what I think the strength of this reform is."

Mr Synot noted the reform represents the work our ancestors did, and how we owe it to them to make systemic change.

Asked about the potential referendum outcomes, he said: "I think we'll be okay, and the future of this country is in better hands that what it has been."

"I can see how strong the polling is in the younger generations," he said.

"If it was no, we continue. We're not going anywhere. Australia without mob just doesn't feel like Australia.

"In many ways, if people were to vote no, it's just burying our heads in the sand until we're forced to do it again."


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