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Leading bodies echo welcome to confirmed referendum date, call for Yes vote

Jarred Cross -

Leading Voice to Parliament advocates and First Nations bodies have welcomed the Prime Minister's confirmed date for the referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

On Wednesday, Anthony Albanese announced Australians will vote on October 14 to decide on whether to enshrine the Voice and recognise the country's first peoples in the constitution.

Uluru Dialogue co-chairs Professor Megan Davis and Pat Anderson officially launched their Yes campaign six weeks out from the referendum.

Professor Davis said the news "is an incredibly proud and emotional moment".

A Cobble Cobble woman and constitutional law expert, she was the first person to read the Uluru Statement from the Heart to the nation.

Recent polls have indicated a swing away from a 'yes' vote across the voting public.

Professor Davis said support is strong however in First Nations communities - a figure echoed by the Prime Minister on Wednesday.

"We know a strong majority (more than 80 per cent) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people support the Voice to Parliament because they know it will improve outcomes within their communities," she said.

"That's what they told us when we held 12 Regional Dialogues around the country in 2016 and 2017, and again at the National Convention at Uluru, where we issued the Statement from the Heart.

"Our people were also clear they did not want to issue the Statement to government. Instead, the Statement was an invitation to all Australians to walk with us on this historic journey to substantive constitutional recognition and practical, positive outcomes.

"This is an incredibly proud and emotional moment for those who took part in the Uluru Dialogues. We pay our respects also to those leaders who came before us, who refused to give up hope that Australians could one day unite to recognise the gift that is 65,000 years of continuous connection to this land, and the promise of a better future together."

Speaking on Wednesday, Professor Davis said the Voice "this is about changing the way we do things in communities. It is about recognising our communities."

"It is about listening and it is about acting best practice globally tells us that human beings are more likely to flourish if they have control over their lives," she said.

"The status quo does not work for our people.

"A vote for no is an endorsement of no change. It is a vote for the status quo. In the Uluru statement our people chose generosity. We chose unity. We chose real change. And we chose love."

She said "the time is now to vote yes".

Aunty Pat hopes for a new dawn the morning after the referendum.

"We have the opportunity to make history. Together, we can choose to wake up on the morning of 15 October as a better country with a brighter future for all our children, or we can choose the status quo," she said.

"Between now and referendum day, we ask everyone to remember that we as First Nations Peoples know what works best for our Communities and we believe that a Voice will finally be the step to improve our peoples' lives."

Reconciliation Australia asked for voters to engage with the Voice and educate themselves before casting their vote.

The Group criticised "misinformation" within discussion on the proposal.

"Reconciliation Australia urges all Australians of goodwill to inform themselves, to find out the facts and not be swayed by the misinformation and lies being spread in the lead up to 14 October," Reconciliation Australia said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We urge supporters of the Voice to get active, speak to your neighbours, your family, friends and work colleagues. Call out misinformation and racism when you see it.

"We call on all community leaders, including politicians, to approach the debate in a respectful and truthful way, and above all else avoid stoking the sort of vitriolic racism that has defined much of the debate thus far."

The said "we urge unity before division, respect before abuse and truth above misinformation".

Australians will take part in the country's first referendum in over two decades on October 14.


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