The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia has welcomed the release of the final wording for the referendum question on a First Nations Voice to Parliament and constitutional amendment.
National President Mark Gaetani said the Society had been a long-standing supporter of enshrining a voice in the Constitution.
‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are overrepresented in almost all of our services, reflecting the challenges they experience from historic and contemporary injustices,’ Mr Gaetani said.
‘Government interventions have repeatedly failed because they have been developed without deep listening to First Nations people.
‘It is time to listen and to put Indigenous voices at the heart of the Australian Government’s policies and programs that impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,’ Mr Gaetani said.
The St Vincent de Paul Society has supported Australians in need for almost 170 years.
‘We have learnt, sometimes through painful experience, that respectfully listening to people is fundamental to understanding them and their needs, and to delivering assistance that maintains their dignity and that works,’ Mr Gaetani said.
‘The Voice will be a way to do this on a national scale.
‘Enshrining the Voice in the Constitution is so important because it will mean that the Australian people have accepted the generous invitation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk with First Nations people to work towards recognition, reconciliation, and justice,’ Mr Gaetani said.
Today, St Vincent de Paul Society National CEO Mr Toby oConnor is at Parliament House with leaders from Australia’s leading faith-based social services charities to urge the 47th Parliament to support an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.
‘The delegation represents a huge proportion of the delivery of social services in Australia,’ Mr oConnor said.
‘We provide an extensive array of supports including poverty alleviation, emergency management, family and domestic violence support, homelessness services, alcohol and drugs support and other social support services.
‘We share a faith-based commitment to addressing hardship and injustice and the Voice is a threshold issue for us – as important to us as Cost of Living, Homelessness and Poverty.
‘We are here in Parliament House today to urge Parliamentarians and indeed all Australians to answer the invitation of Indigenous Australians, expressed so generously through the Uluru Statement from the Heart, to walk together to create a better future.
‘Being able to influence national decision makers on a range of key issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people is fundamental to creating a fairer Australia,’ Mr oConnor said.