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Indigenous voice supporters call for week of silence

Rudi Maxwell -

Devastated First Nations leaders of the unsuccessful Indigenous voice referendum have called a week of silence.

Following the resounding defeat, Yes23 campaigner and filmmaker Rachel Perkins posted a statement to social media from Indigenous Australians who supported the voice referendum.

It spoke of a bitter irony that people who had been on the continent for 235 years refused to recognise those whose home it had been for 60,000 years.

"It was never in the gift of these newcomers to refuse recognition to the true owners of Australia," the supporters said.

"The referendum was a chance for newcomers to show a long-refused grace and gratitude and to acknowledge that the brutal dispossession of our people underwrote their every advantage in this country."

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A post shared by Rachel Perkins (@rachelperkinsau)

The statement, which was endorsed by members of the Uluru Dialogue, thanked supporters of the 'yes' campaign including voters, volunteers and the prime minister.

"Now is not the time to dissect the reasons for this tragic outcome," they said.

"Now is the time for silence, to mourn and deeply consider the consequences."

Many Indigenous people, including Greens senator Dorinda Cox, replaced their social media profile pictures with an empty black tile to demonstrate how unseen they felt.

"Today is a very hard day," Senator Cox said.

"I want to acknowledge elders, mob and allies who have fought so hard and changed the conversation for the better.

"First Nations people have stayed strong and resilient in the fight, for generations, there is formidable strength here."

Greens senator Dorinda Cox said the referendum result would be hard for many Indigenous people.

Independent senator Lidia Thorpe opposed the voice and said the referendum exposed racism on both sides of the campaign.

Senator Thorpe has pushed for a treaty over an enshrined advisory body but said she was open to supporting a legislated voice if it had grassroots representation.

Palawa elder Rodney Dillon, an Amnesty spokesperson for Indigenous rights, said the fight for recognition spanned decades of tireless campaigning from First Nations people, some of whom did not live to see the historic vote.

"They courageously forged this path so that Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia could choose to walk together toward justice, healing and truth," he said.

"This heartbreaking result comes after rampant online disinformation in Australia about the consequences of the referendum, and the reverberation of the racist myth of 'terra nullius', the false premise of 'nobody's land', upon which Australia was colonised 235 years ago.

Aboriginal elder Rodney Dillon said the fight for recognition spanned decades.

Indigenous 'no' campaigners Warren Mundine and Jacinta Nampijinpa Price said they were not surprised by the result, which reinforced the need for a "new era" of Indigenous policy.

Reconciliation Australia said its work was needed more than ever.

"As we grapple with this weekend's outcome, we must also grapple with the ugly acts of racism and disinformation that have been a feature of the debate despite regular calls for respectful engagement," the not-for-profit group said.

"All Australians must ask ourselves whether this is a standard we are comfortable with."

Reconciliation Australia and Amnesty said while they were devastated by the result, it wasn't the first setback to aspirations of Indigenous people.

"We are confident that in due course, the millions of Australians who voted 'yes' and those who voted 'no' but who are committed to better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, will unite for a more just Australia," Reconciliation Australia said.

"Now is a time for healing.

"The powerful movement built over the past few months is not going away."

13YARN 13 92 76

Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905

Rudi Maxwell - AAP

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