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Y Australia Statement on the Voice to Parliament Referendum outcome

October 23, 2023 The Y in Australia

In June 2023, Y Australia committed our support to the Voice to Parliament. This position was established after extensive consultation with young people, members and staff within the Y and in the broader Australian community. We are deeply saddened by the outcome and express our ongoing commitment to stand by First Peoples in their plight to better recognition, outcomes and self-determination.

This week we have stood silent in respect of the call made by some groups and communities to grieve and reflect on this outcome. However, we have not stood silent in supporting our young people and children who are affected by this outcome and will continue to advocate and support our position to recognise First Peoples in the constitution.

Notably the majority of young Australians supported the Voice.  Whilst many were not of voting age and could not influence the decision, this makes us reflect further on the importance of our efforts, and other community groups, to continue to strengthen our advocacy to amplify the voices of young people in important decisions like the Voice.

Whilst Australia might have missed the opportunity to enshrine recognition of First Peoples in the Constitution, Y Australia will continue to enhance our own capabilities to deepen our commitment to self-determination, to working with First Peoples and listening to their voices.

With Youth and First Nations enrolment rates currently the highest ever recorded, we urge young Australians to remain engaged with public debate and to use their voices to impact change.

To all our communities, families, staff, volunteers and friends – take the time to heal, to listen, to respect, and reflect.  Acknowledge the distress and harm that this has caused so many.  But let’s also not give up in our efforts to unify. Together we can make a difference.

At this time, it’s also important to remind ourselves that this month is Mental Health Awareness Month. The impacts in the lead up to and post the outcome of the referendum has, in many cases, been detrimental to some First Peoples and young Australians. We want to encourage everyone to think about and reflect on the mental health and wellbeing for ourselves, our families and friends and our communities. We all deal with the decision in different ways, so please be respectful and supportive.  If you or some you know needs help, please call LIFELINE or 13YARN.

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