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Religious and multicultural groups pledge Yes

Religious and multicultural communities across Sydney gathered at Pitt Street Uniting Church on the UN International Day of Peace (September 21) to pledge support for the Uluru Statement of the Heart and its invitation to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

The interfaith event followed just four days after Sydney’s Walk for Yes on September 17, which kicked off with a rally in Redfern Park ahead of 30,000 supporters marching up Chalmers and Cleveland streets singing John Farnham’s “You’re the Voice”.

Australians will go to the polls on October 14 to vote in a referendum about whether to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

Keynote speaker at the multifaith event, Charles Prouse, is a Nyikina man from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, a leader in the Yes campaign and author of On the Voice.

“The words in the [Uluru] Statement come from an ancient past, centre us in the present and look to the future for all of us as a nation,” he said. “Our spirit – our liyan – will always be strong. This was, and always will be, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land.”

Mr Prouse also said that if people didn’t know about the Voice they should ask.

Faith and multicultural representatives with keynote speaker Charles Proust at the Voice Treaty Truth event at Pitt Street Uniting Church on the UN International Day of Peace.

Ordained Christian minister, Meredith Williams, from Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, said, “The First Peoples of this country are the ones who know it best … the ones whose skills, knowledge and patience can help us all repair the damage of climate change; can help us make sensible, sustainable decisions to nurture the environment that our lives and our futures depend on.

“But they can only do this if they have a presence at the table, a recognised, official voice through which to contribute their wisdom and experience. And yes, a Voice enshrined in the Constitution, so it’s respected and can’t be silenced or ignored on the whim of a change of government.”

Desis for Yes, a collective of South Asian Australians, said: “Reading the [Uluru] Statement in different languages and reflecting through different faith and cultural traditions was a powerful invitation to commune directly with First Nations people. At its heart, the sovereignty seeking recognition is a spiritual notion.

“We continue to host grassroots conversations in the leadup to October 14, to respond to the peaceful and powerful invitation of the Statement.”

The Day of Peace event was organised by Muslim Collective, Pitt Street Uniting Church, Hindus for Human Rights (ANZ), Indian Crescent Society of Australia, Buddhist Council of NSW, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, and community members from the Jewish faith. The multicultural groups Desis for Yes, Afghan Women on the Move and We Australians Are Creative Inc also participated.



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