NQCC has worked to protect the environment of the North Queensland region for almost 50 years. We can be proud of that. However, it’s humbling to recognise that these lands and waters, and everything that lives within them, have been cared for since time immemorial by Aboriginal Peoples. As an organisation, we recognise that colonial practices continue to inflict immense harm upon Country and First Nations Peoples. If we want a better future for both, moving forward, then we need to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. That starts with listening.
When some members of NQCC's Management Committee heard Dr Janine Gertz speak about the journey from the Uluru Dialogues and the Uluru Statement From the Heart to the referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, they knew that our community would benefit from hearing the story too. We were thrilled when Dr Gertz accepted our invitation to present to our members, and were even happier at the interest the event received!
This informed conversation provided a wonderful opportunity for NQCC supporters to follow the process and journey - the most extensive consultation ever involving First Nations Peoples - that has led to the upcoming referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution.
Some of the things attendees gleaned from the presentation...
- The consultation process has been run entirely by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, involved over 1200 First Nations people in 13 locations around Australia, and there was consensus on two things - the Voice and Treaty.
- The Indigenous Voice to Parliament, if carried, will give a consistent voice to First Nations people not subject to the whim of governments that come and go. What it looks like can be decided upon by the government of the day, but by being enshrined in the Constitution, it cannot be easily removed - unlike so many advisory bodies, programs and support structures initiated by governments throughout history.
- The Voice is not about equality, but equity.
- A lot of people will be swayed to vote "no" simply because they haven't been spoken to about what it means. It's important that we talk to our families, friends and communities and help connect them to resources.
About Dr Janine Gertz
Dr Janine Gertz is a Gugu Badhun and Ngadjonji woman from North Queensland. She is a Lecturer of Indigenous Studies at the Nura Gili Centre for Indigenous Programs and Research Associate at the Indigenous Law Centre of the University of New South Wales. Janine is involved in the local and national campaign for the constitutionally enshrined Indigenous Voice to Parliament and has been delivering education sessions to community in the lead up to the referendum in the later part of 2023.
Her engaging and down-to-earth presentation style was appreciated by the 37 attendees, who arrived with open minds and left feeling "informed and inspired", as one attendee put it. While Janine would love to present to every group in her community, she reminded us that she is just one person, and that we all have a part to play in connecting people to information so that they can be informed - and not misinformed.
She directed us to the following resources for further learning, participating in further discussions or getting involved in the Yes23 campaign:
For further learning, visit https://ulurustatement.org/
To register for a Yarning Circle, visit https://ulurustatement.org/education/start-a-yarn/
To volunteer with Townsville for Yes, visit https://action.yes23.com.au/townsville_for_yes
To read about NQCC's support for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, visit https://www.nqcc.org.au/support_for_an_indigenous_voice_to_parliament