Over 110 ethnic and cultural community organisations have committed their “steadfast support” for a YES vote in the upcoming Voice referendum.
The growing nationwide alliance of multicultural groups has issued a powerful Joint Resolution urging “all Australians to work together to ensure referendum success.”
Signups via the multiculturalforvoice.org website accelerated following the Liberal Party’s decision to oppose Indigenous constitutional recognition through a Voice.
The growing list of over 110 signatories includes multiple Indian and Chinese community organisations, along with Sri Lankan, Italian, Irish, Iranian, Greek, Vietnamese, Filipino, Sikh, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and Pacific Islander community groups – to name just a few.
The Joint Resolution describes a constitutionally guaranteed Voice as “modest, practical and fair”.
“As leaders of diverse multicultural community organisations, we endorse the Uluru Statement and its call for a First Nations voice guaranteed by the Constitution”, it says.
It further adds, “We commit our steadfast support, and urge all Australians to work together to ensure referendum success. Let us co-operate across differences of politics and diversities of culture and faith, to heal our country and unify the nation.”
The growing support of multicultural Australians is significant for the YES campaign. Polls show that those who speak another language at home are more likely to support the referendum, demonstrating strong levels of good will for this cause amongst Australians of diverse ethnic backgrounds.
President of the Chinese Community Council of Australia (Victoria), Jimmy Li, whose organisation has signed the Joint Resolution, said “as a proud Australian with Chinese heritage, I believe it is our responsibility to actively contribute to the creation of a more just and inclusive society for all, including honouring and supporting First Nations people. That means backing a Yes vote, to support the First Nations’ Voice to Parliament as a crucial step towards recognition and reconciliation.”
The multicultural Joint Resolution is a community driven initiative, supported by the Radical Centre Reform Lab at Macquarie University Law School and Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA).
FECCA’s CEO, Iraqi-born Mohammad Al-Khafaji, previously slammed the ‘No’ campaign’s attempt to attract migrants as “offensive” and confirmed “resounding support” for the Voice referendum among ethnic communities.
“In my experience, multicultural communities feel strongly about reconciliation. Many of us come from countries where we too have experienced discrimination,” Al-Khafaji said.
He further added, “We want to see Indigenous people recognised in the Constitution through a Voice in their affairs, so better outcomes can be achieved.”
Dr Shireen Morris, Director of the Reform Lab and a constitutional lawyer of Indian and Fijian-Indian heritage, said “the success of this referendum is the responsibility of all Australians of all backgrounds. There is massive empathy among migrant communities for the plight of Indigenous peoples, and that is driving this growing support.”
“As migrants and descendants of migrants, we love this country which has given us so much opportunity. This is the best democracy in the world. But we also know the history. Our great nation was built off the back of Indigenous losses. As multicultural Australians, this referendum is our chance to give back to Indigenous people. To stand with Indigenous Australians for the simple yet profound recognition they seek: an advisory Voice in their own affairs.”
The multicultural Joint Resolution follows Australia’s nine major faith groups issuing a similar Joint Resolution supporting the Voice referendum in May last year.
Those national organisations representing Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh Australians penned an open letter to federal parliamentarians in February, calling on politicians “to collaborate constructively across political divides” to support the Uluru Statement, which was “an invitation to move towards national healing, unity and reconciliation”.
In April, former Liberal Party federal Vice President, Karina Okotel, a lawyer of Sri Lankan background, issued a similar plea to Liberal politicians, urging them not to “ignore the multicultural vote, the religious vote and the women’s vote” by opposing the Voice referendum. Okotel pointed to the multiculutralforvoice.org website where community organisations were declaring support.
Those pleas have been ignored. However, some multicultural leaders are commending the decision of Julian Leeser MP to resign from the Shadow Cabinet to campaign for a YES vote. Hindu Council adviser, Vijai Singhal, said “I know that many Australian Indians – and migrants more broadly – will back him in his moral stance on the upcoming Voice referendum.”
Chin Tan, the Race Discrimination Commissioner of Malaysian-Chinese origin, an appointee of the former LNP government, also backs the referendum, writing in The Guardian that a YES vote would be “a powerful act of national unity.”
President of the National Sikh Council of Australia, Sadar Ajmer Singh Gill, has contributed to Statements from the Soul, a book of multifaith and multicultural essays making the moral case for the Voice referendum.
“I say to the politicians withholding support for Indigenous peoples’ modest request to have a guaranteed Voice in their own affairs: Sikh Australians are watching. Migrants, multifaith and multicultural communities are watching,” Gill said. “We are watching and we vote.”
But Dr Morris insists the upcoming referendum is not about politicians. “This is about the Australian people. The Australian people must decide whether Indigenous Australians deserve to be recognised in the Constitution through a guaranteed Voice in their affairs. Multicultural Australians will be crucial in getting to YES.”
Joint Resolution of Multicultural Community Organisations
in support of the First Nations Voice Referendum
In 2017, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples asked Australians to walk with them towards a better future.
Through the Uluru Statement from the Heart, they asked for constitutional recognition through a constitutionally guaranteed voice in their own affairs.
As leaders of diverse multicultural community organisations, we endorse the Uluru Statement and its call for a First Nations voice guaranteed by the Constitution.
This reform is modest, practical and fair.
We call on our political representatives to lead this referendum in the spirit of bipartisan and broad cooperation.
We commit our steadfast support, and urge all Australians to work together to ensure referendum success.
Let us co-operate across differences of politics and diversities of culture and faith, to heal our country and unify the nation.