Leading not-for-proﬁt organisations and church leaders launched a campaign to support a ‘Yes’ vote at the upcoming referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament at an event hosted by the Rev. Bill Crews Foundation on Sunday 24 September.
The Uniting Church Synod of NSW & ACT agencies of the Bill Crews Foundation, Wayside Chapel, Welsey Mission, Uniting NSW.ACT and Newtown Mission, in addition to Uniting World, Yes23 and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, screened a video to kickstart the campaign which featured community leaders reﬂecting on the importance of the Voice.
Ex Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod NSW & ACT, Rev. Simon Hansford said a Yes vote is critical to our nation’s future because the First Nations voice is not heard well, consistently, or justly.
“When we talk about Jesus’ place in the world, one of the most signiﬁcant things that Jesus does is the telling of stories. Gospel readings have these wonderful sayings from Jesus “if you have ears then listen” and it’s asking us to pay attention. So this First Nations voice is about the telling of these stories and paying attention,” Rev. Hansford said.
“This is not about us begrudgingly granting a place at the table to First Nations’ people at our table. It’s about reinterpreting, re-understanding, and creating a new story in which First Nations’ voices are heard as part of the whole community. When we tell stories well and listen well, we all change,”
“I think what the Voice oﬀers us is a creative and hopeful way forward, not just for a moment, but for the longer term. If we listen to the First Nations’ story and give it the honor it deserves and the attention it deserves, not just once, but continually, then we will actually not only begin to change, but want to create a new community.
The event featured a Welcome to Country by Aunty Shirley Lomas followed by a traditional dance performance. More than 300 people attended the community BBQ including the Prime Minister, the Hon Anthony Albanese, Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and Mr Julian Leeser MP.
Rev. Bill Crews said that looking at a map of Australia he sees Aboriginal feet all over it.
“They know every nook and cranny, every hollow, every creek, every sky, every star that’s there. You can think of Aboriginal culture in the land as being like a beautiful spider web, one of those webs glistening in the morning dew. The web of all things, and somebody has gone at that with a shotgun, so you’ve got bits ﬂapping here and people ﬂapping there and the need is to bring all that together again. The Voice is a start at doing that,” Rev. Bill Crews said.