Voice Referendum Community Forum

Voice Referendum Community Forum, hosted and reported by Zali Steggal Federal MP for Warringah. Photos courtesy Michelle Haywood

On Sunday the 4th April a group of Voice supporters from the northern Sydney region attended a most uplifting community forum hosted by Zali with panelists Dean Parkin, Director of the national Yes Campaign,Tony McAvoy SC and Semara Jose Chairperson of Deadly Inspiring Youth Doing Good – all three deadly warriors for justice for their First Nations people. The large theatre at the Cremorne Orpheum seemed pretty full; the audience had been requested to submit questions before the event and Zali presented these questions to the Panelists for responses – a great way to have panelists and audience totally engaged.

We are grateful to Zali for allowing us to republish her Report to Warringah constituents here, along with Zali’s excellent short ‘Voice Summary video’ and the full length recording. Thanks Sheilagh Kelly.

Voice Referendum Community forum by Zali Steggal
We held a wonderful forum on the First Nations Voice to Parliament last Sunday at the Cremorne Orpheum. I was very grateful to our Warringah community who turned out in large numbers and to our excellent panellists for speaking from the heart and sharing their experience and insight.

Guests were very engaged and had submitted over 160 questions ahead of the day. Many topics were covered, including the benefits of the Voice, its design principles, what the proposed body can and can’t do and how it would differ to Indigenous representation that is currently available – and why change is needed to help close the gap.

Dean Parkin, Director of the national Yes Campaign, invited us to connect our story of what it means to be Australian with the 65,000 years of Indigenous history. He reminded the audience that the Uluru Statement was an invitation issued to the Australian people not to politicians and that the mandate of the people is crucial in shaping the future of the country.   Tony McAvoy SC emphasised the importance of First Nations people having a seat at the table in policy debates and decision-making processes about issues that directly impact them. He pointed out that while there are a number of organisations already representing Indigenous people there are structural impediments that need to be addressed, and the Voice to Parliament could provide independent, non-partisan advice to support positive change at the federal, state and grassroots level. 

And Semara Jose, Chairperson of Deadly Inspiring Youth Doing Good Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Corporation highlighted the impact the referendum would have on the ground and the next generation. She stressed the need for a holistic approach to creating change in Indigenous communities, which is not possible under the current system. She asked the audience to consider her nieces and nephews and future generations when the time comes to vote in the referendum, how we will explain to them the choice we made as a nation, the decision that will directly affect their lives. She urged us to think about it, to dream on it – and whichever way we vote, to know that it matters. 

If you missed the event or would like to share it with other, you can view a recording HERE.

Or to listen to Zali’s short Voice Summary video click here

Please contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to become involved in helping Zali and her team engage our community further, raise awareness and facilitate conversations.