Canberra, May 26 (IANS) Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Friday appealed to the people of the country to be on the right side of history in the referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Friday marked the six years since the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a petition that called for the constitution to be changed to establish the Voice, was first unveiled by more than 250 Indigenous delegates, reports Xinhua news agency.
“A ‘Yes’ vote at the 2023 referendum is a chance for all of us to take the next step on the journey to reconciliation,” Albanese said in a statement on Friday.
“To be counted — and heard — on the right side of history.”
Addressing Parliament on Thursday, he defended the Voice proposal from criticism and ruled out change to the word of the referendum, which is expected to be held late in 2023.
If successful, the referendum would establish the Voice as a body that would advise the federal parliament on issues relating to Indigenous Australians.
Albanese, a strong proponent of the Voice, called for non-Indigenous Australians to imagine they were on the other side of the disparity faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“Imagine your brothers and sisters are likely to die a decade younger than the general population. Imagine your daughter is more at risk during childbirth — and your grandchild more at risk of infant mortality. Imagine your son statistically more likely to go to jail than university,” he said.
“Imagine all of this — and then imagine that after generations of being sidelined and ignored, you are finally given an opportunity to change it. To be heard.”
The prime minister on Friday said next week the Constitutional Alteration is expected to pass the House of Representatives, one step closer to a referendum to recognize Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through a Voice to Parliament in Australia’s founding document.