The voice to parliament is intended to become a representative body giving Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander people a say in law and policy affecting them. Enshrined in the constitution, it would become an institution of lasting significance for First Nations and all Australians.
In May 2021, the National Voice co-design committee held a consultation on Darkinjung country – one of 61 consultations across the nation, which resulted in the highest attendance of Aboriginal community members, to date, across the country.
This opportunity for the Central Coast Aboriginal community to have their say on this important issue was made possible by Barang’s advocacy to the National Indigenous Australian’s Agency and Voice co-design committee.
Following this consultation, it is clear that our community overwhelmingly supports the call made by the representatives of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including the delegates from the Central Coast region through their call for Constitutional Enshrinement.
Further to this our community seeks for the Central Coast to be recognised and included as a stand-alone district and region, in the regional voice framework. The recognition of the Central Coast as a stand-alone region would further allow self-determination and empowerment of our community.
Barang Regional Alliance supports structural reform in the form of both constitutional recognition and legislative backing. Barang acknowledges that both are required to enable a partnership, however we believe that a First Nations voice should be designed in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, ensuring that it supports regional and local empowerment.
Further work must now be done to put forward the key priorities as outlined in the Uluru Statement and the Referendum Council’s report, namely: a constitutionally guaranteed voice for the First Nations, a Makarrata Commission to supervise agreement-making and truth-telling, and a Declaration of Recognition. We do not support a minimalist or purely symbolic constitutional amendment. Constitutional recognition must be substantive and practical.