A Week of Silence for the Voice
Filmmaker and co-chair of Yes23, Rachel Perkins issued the statement on her Instagram page on Saturday (14 October 2023) on behalf Indigenous Australians who supported the referendum, writing:
A Statement from Indigenous Australians
who Supported the Voice Referendum
Recognition in the constitution of the descendants of the original and continuing owners of Australia would have been a great advance for Australians. Alas, the majority have rejected it.
This is a bitter irony. That people who have only been on this continent for 235 years would refuse to recognise those whose home this land has been for 60,000 and more years is beyond reason. It was never in the gift of these newcomers to refuse recognition to the true owners of Australia. The referendum was a chance for newcomers to show a long-refused grace and gratitude and to acknowledge that the brutal dispossession of our people underwrote their every advantage in this country.
For more than six years, we have explained to our nation why the Voice was our great hope to achieve real change for our families and communities.
To the Australians who supported us in this vote – we thank you sincerely. You comprise many millions of Australians of love and goodwill. We know you wanted a better future for Australia, and to put the colonial past behind us by choosing belated recognition and justice.
We thank the Prime Minister and his government for having the conviction to take this referendum to the Australian people at our request. We thank him for his advocacy and all parliamentarians who did the same, including members of the Teals, Greens, Nationals and independents who stood by us. We pay particular respect to the Liberal parliamentarians who bravely advocated for the voice.
We also thank our fellow Australians from all sectors of the community, including multicultural, faith, professional, business, creative and sporting organisations. To the hundreds of thousands who took to the streets, knocked on doors and made over a million phone calls, thank you for your love and support.
Our deep chagrin at this result does not in any way diminish our pride and gratefulness for the stand they had the moral courage to take in this cause now lost. We know we have them by our side in the ongoing cause for justice and fairness in our own land.
Now is not the time to dissect the reasons for this tragic outcome. This will be done in the weeks, years and decades to come. Now is the time for silence, to mourn and deeply consider the consequence of this outcome.
Much will be asked about the role of racism and prejudice against Indigenous people in this result. The only thing we ask is that each and every Australian who voted in this election reflect hard on this question.
To our people we say: do not shed tears. This rejection was never for others to issue. The truth is that rejection was always ours to determine. The truth is that we offered this recognition and it has been refused. We now know where we stand in this our own country. Always was. Always will be.
We will not rest long. Pack up the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Fly our flags low. Talk not of recognition and reconciliation. Only of justice and the rights of our people in our own country. Things that no one else can gift us, but to which we are entitled by fact that this is the country of our birth and inheritance.
Re-gather our strength and resolve, and when we determine a new direction for justice and our rights, let us once again unite. Let us convene in due course to carefully consider our path forward.
We are calling A Week of Silence from tonight (Saturday 14th October) to grieve this outcome and reflect on its meaning and significance. We will not be commenting further on the result at this time.
We will be lowering our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to half-mast for the week of silence to acknowledge this result. We ask others to do the same.
14 October 2023
You can view the above statement in pdf format here. You can also read a related article Indigenous leaders ask for a ‘Week of Silence’ to grieve the Voice published earlier today (Monday 16 October 2023) by Women’s Agenda here.