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'The fight isn't over': Voice leaders urge supporters to keep election campaign momentum going

Tom Zaunmayr -

Backers of a First Nations Voice to Parliament say NAIDOC Week should stoke momentum to hold the Federal government to its word on bringing forward a referendum to enshrine a the Voice in the constitution in its first term.

Speaking on the eve of NAIDOC Week, Uluru dialogue leaders expressed their confidence in the newly-elected Federal Labor government and their promise to bring forward a vote on the Voice.

But senior Uluru dialogue leader Dani Larkin said the 2022 NAIDOC theme of get up, stand up, show up was a timely reminder the fight to enshrine a Voice in the constitution was not yet won.

Prior to the Federal election, backers of the enshrined Voice put forward a preferred referendum date of May 27 next year to coincide with the 56th anniversary of the 1967 Indigenous rights vote and sixth anniversary of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney have both backed their promise for a referendum since gaining office, but are yet to land on a date.

Ms Larkin said the process to have Indigenous voices heard in parliament had gone on long enough.

"We are waiting for a date to be set, we are keen for this to happen, and the time is now," she said.

"Those words get up, stand up, show up, that is really what our culture is about, to talk about the resilience of a people who will never give up.

"When I look at how that connects to the Uluru Statement From the Heart, I think about the enormous amount of work, but also courage, to continue the fight on the large scale it has been taken on... every single day."

Ms Larkin said it was incumbent on those who wanted the Voice to educate Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members to keep the campaign's momentum going.

Uluru youth dialogue co-chairwoman Bridget Cama said NAIDOC Week's theme was a call to action to fight for justice, something an enshrined Voice would be able to champion.

"It really encourages all Australians to continue on the journey for justice in this country and for unfinished business to be dealt with," she said.

"We have had versions of a voice in the past that have been legislated, but those issues have just been used as a political football.

"For our elders to then come up with this proposal of a voice and that it must be constitutionally enshrined so that we have a voice that must be consulted on the issues that affect us, it gives us hope."

Ms Cama said youth members had been busy educating community members to keep momentum going to get a date for the referendum confirmed.

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