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NT land councils urge voters to stand up and vote 'yes'

Rudi Maxwell -

The Northern Territory Aboriginal land councils are asking the people of Australia to stand with them and vote 'yes' in the upcoming referendum on an Indigenous Voice.

And they are entrusting Prime Minister Anthony Albanese with helping them spread the message.

The chairs of the four land councils have travelled to Canberra to meet with Mr Albanese on Thursday to hand him the 2023 Barunga Declaration.

Northern Land Council chair Samuel Bush-Blanasi said the declaration comes directly from Aboriginal people of the NT.

"It is the Voice from the bush calling on all Australians to recognise us, support us, and help us make the changes so urgently needed for a better future, together," he said.

The declaration calls "for the recognition of our peoples in our still young constitution by enshrining our Voice to the parliament and executive government, never to be rendered silent with the stroke of a pen again".

Members of the Northern, Central, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa land councils signed the declaration at the Barunga Festival in early June.

The declaration comes 35 years after the original 1988 Barunga Statement, which called for the recognition of Aboriginal rights and culture and was presented to former prime minister Bob Hawke by NLC chair Yunupingu and CLC chair Wenten Rubuntja.

The 2023 Barunga Declaration invites all Australians to "right the wrongs of the past and deal with the serious issues impacting First Nations peoples ... and unite our country".

Tiwi Land Council chair Gibson Farmer Illortaminni urged people to vote 'yes' in the upcoming referendum, which will be held between mid August and late December.

"Through the establishment of a Voice to parliament, we, the Tiwi people, want to be at the table when decisions are made that affect our land, culture, and future," he said.

Central Land Council chair Matthew Palmer said a successful referendum would mean a be tter country for everybody.

"The Barunga Declar ation deserves to hang alongside the Barunga Statement on the walls of the people's house for all times and make future generations of Australians proud," he said.

Anindilyakwa Land Council chair Tony Wurramarrba said a First Nations Voice would enable people from remote areas to have a say on policies that affected them.

"We want our voices to always be heard in the parliament and by the government before decisions are made about us," he said.

"Business as usual has failed us. We are here to ask all Australians to help us open the door to a better way of working together and vote yes in the referendum."

Rudi Maxwell - AAP


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