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Dodson sends heartfelt message urging support for Voice

Andrew Brown -

Reconciliation advocate and senator Pat Dodson has urged detractors to get behind the Indigenous Voice, saying the referendum would acknowledge injustices.

The WA Labor senator, who is currently on medical leave and unable to attend parliament to debate the Voice referendum, sent a message that was read in the Senate by Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Thursday.

Parliament is debating the final form the Indigenous Voice referendum will take, as well as the proposed constitutional change, with a vote in the Senate due to be held next week.

In the message read by Senator Wong, Senator Dodson said the Voice was an historic opportunity for change.

"This alteration is profound because it is facing up to Australia's legacy of colonisation and assimilation," the message said.

"Through a successful referendum, Australians will finally acknowledge those injustices of the crown and will do so without undermining the integrity of our political and institutional framework of our nation.

Senator Dodson wrote that the Voice would be an action of restorative justice.

"Doing this will give a sense of honour for all Australians as we collectively stand with courage to face these past legacies, and ensure they are not bequeathed to future generations," the message said.

"This is one commitment our generation can make."

Debate on the Voice continued into the night on Thursday, with Indigenous senator Lidia Thorpe attacking the proposal as "window dressing" for a "powerless" advisory body.

"This bill is for a referendum that Labor and the Greens are using to absolve colonial Australia of its responsibility," she said.

"The referendum has already given space to and elevated some of the most vile racism this country has ever seen, and that's saying something."

The referendum is due to be held between October and December this year, with a date to be finalised once the bill passes parliament.

Senator Thorpe said the Voice would do little to address issues impacting Indigenous people.

She instead called for a treaty to be established.

"I cannot support a referendum that is merely intended to make colonisers in this country feel better about themselves.

"I cannot support a referendum that is already dividing and hurting our communities.

"Instead, I will continue to fight for real change to turn things around in this country."

While recent opinion polls showed support for the 'yes' campaign dropping, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was confident the referendum would succeed.

"There's been a lot of misinformation put out there, and once the debate goes out of Canberra, I think you'll see different outcomes," he told ABC Radio Sydney.

"I'm confident that Australians when they get the opportunity to vote 'yes' for recognition of First Nations people, will do so in the last quarter of this year."

Mr Albanese said the Voice referendum would be an opportunity to unite the nation.

Andrew Brown - AAP

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