Say YES! to the Together, Yes campaign! by Angela Finn and Robyn Hutchinson
Photos courtesy of Michelle Haywood
How you can be involved in helping people understand the 2023 Referendum
Our monthly WRN on yarn on March 30 included a presentation and workshops, led by WRN member Angie Finn about the Together, Yes campaign. About 50 people attending face-to-face and on zoom, with our Mentor Aunty Ali doing the Acknowledgement to Gadigal country. Here is a snapshot of Angie’s presentation.
We know that every cell in your body wants this 2023 referendum to succeed. It should not be the burden of those who have suffered – and who continue to suffer the impact of colonisation to have to argue their case for recognition, to be heard. Instead, it is my responsibility – it is OUR responsibility – all of US. We – you and me – have power. We can create change by voting YES in the 2023 Referendum. But, voting ‘yes’ isn’t enough. We need to mobilise and talk to non-indigenous people – especially those who might be on the fence, confused and unsure – leading to more informed and comprehensive decision-making.
But how? We know the task sometimes feels daunting and scary, but we are all in this together, and can support each other in having the conversations. Several WRN colleagues attended the Yes 23 National Campaign Launch in Adelaide in February, and were impressed with the Together, Yes model.
The Together, Yes is a Victorian Women’s Trust initiative. This organisation was part of the Voices for Indi and subsequent Federal Independents’ success. So, tried and tested with runs on the board, the model requires people to sign up to become a Conversation host Together, Yes, – a key strategy to an informed vote in the upcoming referendum!
What is a Conversation Host, and what do they do?
A Conversation Host is willing to reach out to 9 people and invite them to gather in a small group discussion and engage in the reckoning of the harm and injustice of our colonial past, Australia’s history of constitutional indifference, and how a Voice to parliament can make a difference. Before you say “I can’t do that, I’m not an expert or knowledgeable on these issues to run a conversation group?” Well, you don’t have to be.
ALL the necessary material to run a smooth, productive and enjoyable session will be provided to the Conversation Host by Together, Yes. The agenda, group rules, format, exercises, timings, and everything you need to run the session, except for tea, coffee and biscuits. So easy! Yes, but the session materials are futile without the conversation hosts. It is you that makes it happen. Your commitment and capacity as the conversation host enable Together, Yes to work.
So, briefly, here’s what conversation hosts do.
•Decide the time, date and location for the gathering. The host will hold two sessions, one in May and one in June.
•Invite 9-10 people to the session
•Download and print the session materials provided by Together, Yes. Hosts can contact Together, Yes, or the materials can be sent by post.
•Create a welcoming, comfortable space for the group to engage in dialogue. Suggested locations might be at someone’s home, around the kitchen table or in a lounge room. Or perhaps in a meeting room at a local library.
•Foster a friendly, safe space where everyone is heard and feels validated to share their experience and build their knowledge.
• Facilitate the conversation by following and using the session materials, principles and rules.
Being a host is about facilitating discussion and learning alongside the people invited to the session. Angie spoke passionately and inspired sistas to trust the process of Together, Yes. The large group broke into smaller groups to discuss who and how we might become hosts or co-co-hosts. A plenary followed where there was a lot of interest in working collaboratively on this strategy.
For more information and registering as a conversation host, please visit www.togetheryes.com.au in order to be in the loop for details and materials.