Australia said No - but we will not be defeated

October 17, 2023 |

On Saturday 14 October 2023, Australians were asked to vote on whether to establish an Aboriginal Voice to Parliament, in what was considered by many as a referendum to define the nation. The Federation deeply regrets the defeat of this proposal, which represented an invitation to walk with Aboriginal people in a first step towards reconciliation.

Many Indigenous and non-Indigenous people across Australia will be profoundly saddened by the result. But we will not let it define us, and we will not be defeated.
Instead, we will take stock and recalibrate. The referendum revealed gaps in the nation’s understanding of what it means to be a First Nations person in Australia today, and provided valuable insights on the divisions that exist across the country, and on people’s reticence to welcome change. It also brought to the fore calls for voice, treaty and truth-telling, and shone much-needed light on the issues affecting Aboriginal communities.

Going forward, we will use lessons learned from the referendum to inform and leverage our advocacy. The referendum has strengthened our resolve. We will continue to work in every way we can to make change where we see injustice.

We will continue to support and represent Aboriginal people, and to be guided by them on speaking out against the injustices they experience every day. And we will continue to campaign for voice, treaty and truth-telling, as we have been invited to do so through the Uluru Statement from the Heart.  

The Federation would like to thank all those who campaigned tirelessly for the Yes23 vote. Your efforts were not in vain.

The Federation stands with our Aboriginal friends, colleagues and Member organisations during this difficult and confronting time. We recognise the ongoing injustices perpetrated against Aboriginal people and remain committed to being allies in the journey towards for self-determination. 

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