For over 60,000 years, First Nations communities on the land we now know as Australia have been the stewards of the oldest continuing living culture in the world.
Their deep wisdom and connection to the land, water and sky resulted in sophisticated and sustainable systems of reciprocity and care for the environment, including fire management, fishing traps and sowing and storing plants.
Some 235 years ago, British colonists set foot on the continent for the first time, using the erroneous grounds of ‘terra nullius’ – land belonging to no one – to claim it for their own. But this was not a possession. It was a dispossession. A severe and devastating disruption to the delicate balance of life and the land.
Since then, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have shown great resilience, keeping culture, community and connection to Country alive in the face of colonisation’s many lasting consequences.
This Euro-centric view of the world has also been the catalyst for the climate crisis, which disproportionately impacts First Nations communities, limiting access to traditional food sources and disconnecting people from Country.
We need ways to heal these injustices by protecting Country, empowering communities, and fostering self-determination.
That’s why we’re proud to support the ‘yes’ vote in the Voice to Parliament referendum.
The Voice, which would be enshrined in the constitution, will advise the Australian government on matters relating to the social, spiritual and economic wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
While there is a complexity of nuanced First Nations perspectives, polling (though not without its flaws) suggests The Voice has majority support from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
All of us in the WorkforClimate team are first- or second-generation settlers on this continent. Our ancestors hail from the UK, France, Denmark and beyond. We’ve benefited from colonisation in being able to call this vast and beautiful place home, all while trying to reconcile the knowledge this land was never ours to claim. Sovereignty was not – is not, will never be – ceded. As guests on stolen land, we’re acutely aware of our responsibility, our duty, to listen to and honour the people who were here first. This always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.
The Voice is not a perfect solution or a fix-all, but we believe a ‘yes’ result is progress. A step in the right direction towards truth-telling, justice and long-overdue change. A chance to move First Nations communities from the margins to the centre of decisions and conversations about them.
“We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.” – Uluru Statement from the Heart
We support the Voice, and we encourage all Australians to listen thoughtfully and engage meaningfully with the topic and with those around you. Minds are being made up right now, so these conversations need to move into the mainstream. They need to be had at dinner tables, at the pub and in the workplace.
To help that along, we’ve created a toolkit with ways you can advocate for the Voice at work.
We hope you find it useful as we face this once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the course of history for the better.
Lucy, and the WorkforClimate team.