Be a Voice for Generations

Jaymee Beveridge on the First Nations Voice to Parliament

I find solace in knowing that sovereignty can co-exist with the proposed reform, providing the coordinates that lead us to an assault-free, mobilised and agreeable destination

Imagine murder, massacre, dispossession and dislocation from your known source of living. Imagine being over-surveyed, silenced, and having all decisions about you made by others unlike you.

While on some levels, the violence towards Indigenous Australians has been reduced; the disconnection from culture, Country, families and personal agency continues. Our kids are removed from their families 15 times more than non-Indigenous children, and not because we love them less or hurt them more. I’ve worked in the Child Protection system, and I’ve witnessed first-hand the lack of understanding, knowledge and mostly unintended comparative positioning in decision-maker processes that directly contribute to these devastating statistics.

For 230-plus years, as a group of people, we have been overpowered, silenced and assaulted – physically, verbally, psychologically, financially. We are exhausted, but we are hopeful warriors.

In 2023, the efforts of many years of consultation, listening and wordsmithing have presented us with an opportunity for Constitutional recognition. The introduction of an entity (Voice) to provide advice and solutions on matters relating to our people is long overdue. Bureaucrats and politicians should not continue to make decisions about us – without us.

Jaymee Beveridge for Stand Reconciliation story

Today, I am proud to work at the University of Wollongong (UOW) as it recognises the imperative role the institution plays in education, social justice and equity. UOW has been providing platforms and spaces for discussions that debunk emerging myths, un-silence the voices of our local Aboriginal community and ultimately support the original bipartisan commitment of Constitutional reform.

I find solace in knowing that sovereignty can co-exist with the proposed reform and that this proposal can provide the coordinates that lead us to an assault-free, mobilised and agreeable destination.

The development, implementation, and evolving practices of this entity (Voice) should not be feared by our non-Indigenous brothers and sisters of this nation – it poses no threat to you! It won’t remove your voice, it won’t increase surveillance on or around you, it won’t disconnect you from your family or cultural practices, and it definitely won’t remove your personal agency (or your children). It’s simply about enshrining an entity in the Constitution that ensures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have an opportunity to review, consider and contribute to proposals and programs, funding allocations and policies that are about us.

To the 97 per cent of the voting population that this Referendum will not impact… I remind you not to let fear guide you, don’t let fear-mongering influence you. Recognise that you are going to be on the right side of history. It’s the first step to pragmatic action to help heal the traumas currently dividing us as a nation. It’s a fibre that can weave Australia into a unified nation.

Jaymee Beveridge, Executive Director (UOW Indigenous Strategy) & Director Woolyungah Indigenous Centre