Summary: After the Voice to Parliament referendum resulted in a No vote, leaders in remote Aboriginal communities are calling for renewed efforts to address the disparities and gaps in these communities. While some community members feel validated by the result, others are concerned about the trauma it may have caused. The focus now shifts to finding alternative ways to improve the living conditions and support services for the severely disadvantaged remote communities. These efforts include increasing on-the-ground engagement with community members and providing better healthcare and mental health services. Despite the disappointment, there is hope that the referendum result will bring sustained attention and action to Indigenous communities, addressing issues such as chronic illness, unemployment, and low life expectancy. However, some are worried that the defeat of the Voice proposal may impede progress on truth telling and treaty-making. Overall, the result has sparked a range of emotions, from encouragement to grief and calls for healing.
While the Voice to Parliament referendum result has left some community members reeling and others feeling validated, there is now a pressing question on what comes next. Tearna Pearce, an Indigenous business owner, expressed her support for the No vote, citing confusion and lack of information as reasons behind her decision. However, she emphasizes that this should not absolve politicians from the responsibility to address the issues in remote communities. Pearce calls for more on-the-ground engagement and support in areas such as healthcare and mental health services.
On the other hand, Vincent Forrester, a former adviser to prime ministers, is appalled by the missed opportunity to address pressing needs in remote communities. He criticizes Australia for its lack of economic activity in these regions and highlights the dire living conditions. Forrester believes that if people truly understood the situation, they would not allow their dogs to live in these communities.
Nathan Garrawurra, a health program coordinator, expresses disappointment but also sees the referendum result as an opportunity to galvanize action. He calls for a coordinated effort from politicians, health services, and Aboriginal organizations to find solutions to the challenges faced by Indigenous communities, including unemployment, chronic health diseases, and low life expectancy.
Libby Collins, a Tiwi Islands filmmaker, expresses her disheartenment over the referendum result and fears that the government will shy away from honoring its commitment to truth telling and treaty-making. She hopes that the work will continue, despite feeling tired and uncertain about the path forward.
While some, like June Mills, an elder from Darwin, see the defeat of the Voice as an opportunity to focus on community-led conversations, others are still grappling with the impact of the result. The Darwin-based Danila Dilba Aboriginal health group organized a public event to provide support and healing for those affected by the referendum outcome. The trauma experienced by Indigenous communities, both from the No vote and the overwhelming numbers that voted against, has prompted calls for healing.
Tags: Voice to Parliament referendum, remote communities, gap closing efforts, Indigenous communities, healthcare, mental health services, chronic illness, unemployment, truth telling, healing