The South Australian State Government this morning passed the First Nations Voice Bill 2023.
Attorney General and Aboriginal affairs minister, Kyam Maher, said it was a long-overdue and defining moment, and that the bill had been developed “hand in hand” with the state’s Aboriginal communities.
The South Australian First Nations Voice enables Indigenous Australians to have a say in the development of state laws and policies that affect their lives. South Australia’s Labour Premier, Peter Malinauskas, explained simply, “It enhances our democracy and improves the state of Indigenous affairs in our state without hurting anyone.”
“This is about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having a platform to share knowledge, wisdom, and aspirations for the future, and to be included in the decision-making process”, said First Nations Voice Commissioner, Dale Agius, when reflecting on the overwhelming support for the Voice in South Australia. Agius notes the community enthusiasm and excitement for the potential of what the Voice can bring about.
Victoria is also on the path to having a state government Voice. Its elected First Peoples’ Assembly, which is currently tasked with negotiating a treaty with the Victorian Government, is expected to morph into a Voice body.
Queensland has a First Nations Consultative Committee which is working to consider a range of state Indigenous Voice options, including the establishment of a Queensland state-wide Indigenous Voice body.
State governments are making the move to embrace the move forward, we commend and thank South Australia for leading the way. The federal government too are taking steps to allow a chance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who know and understand the best way to deliver real and practical change in their communities to have a say through a Voice.
However, as Prof. Marcia Langton reminds us, “It is the duty of Australian’s who want to build a nation that recognises 65,000 years of human history, who want to accord First Peoples a rightful, honourable place in the nation’s fabric, in the warp and weft of its foundational document, to convince their family members, friends, neighbours and colleagues to vote “Yes”.”