15 October 2023

The following can be attributed to Helen Haines MP, Independent Federal Member for Indi:

“Change is hard and changing our constitution is exceptionally hard.

Yesterday, Australians including voters in Indi, comprehensively voted ‘No’ to recognition in our constitution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through a Voice to Parliament. While I am disappointed in the outcome, I am grateful that we have a democracy that allows every one of us to have our say. I have always believed that two people of good character can have different views and discuss those views in peace. That is how it should be. I am grateful that we have a strong and independent Australian Electoral Commission and I thank them for their fine work.

I sincerely thank First Nations Australians here in Indi who have opened their hearts, shared their stories and views with me, who have spoken at information sessions, and so much more. The additional hardship and weight that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have carried over the past few months during this referendum campaign has taken such courage. I thank the many hundreds of people across our community who came along to learn more and who volunteered throughout this referendum. I honour the lifetimes of work from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders and leaders which led to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Many Australians who have been involved in this referendum want to continue walking alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and work for a better future.

The generosity of the Uluru Statement from the Heart means that there are many people who have taken that first step. We now need to understand what type of footprint was left, and then, what our next step will be.

Many people in Australia, no matter how they voted, will be asking ‘what next?’. For many people, they have been inspired to do more to counter the challenges and discrimination faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, or they want to learn more about the traditional owners of the lands where they live and learn much more about more about the history of our nation.

I know that this is not the end of the journey toward Reconciliation, toward Closing the Gap. We will keep walking together, keeping striving for better.”


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