Gippsland network of Neighbourhood Houses (NHG) “Statement of Support for a First Nations Voice”
Neighbourhood Houses Gippsland gladly accepts the invitation from all First Nations Australians to the entire community, to walk as allies in support of establishing:
· a “First Nations Voice”, enshrined in the Australian Constitution, for representing all indigenous Australians and advising the National Parliament on matters affecting indigenous Australians; and
· the formulation of a process for treaty-making and truth-telling here in Victoria.
We recognise the unbroken links of First Nations peoples to, and their unceded custodianship of, the lands across Australia and the Torres Strait Islands, which has persisted across eons as the oldest living civilisation on Earth. We recognise the special place that much of Gippsland holds in the ancestry of the Gunai-Kurnai, Bunurong and other bun wurrung clans who first inhabited these local areas, and whose knowledge and beliefs have been handed down through generations of story-telling.
The fundamental principles of Neighbourhood Houses include:
– empowerment through self-determination;
– diversity & inclusion; and
– fairness & equity,
as these are the true foundations upon which all strong communities are developed and nurtured. These are also the concepts and principles underpinning the Voice. We could not be true to our own principles without supporting the creation of a Voice and a treaty-making process.
Just as we do with all segments of the local community, the NHG promises to work with our local First Nations clans and with their national and Victorian representative bodies, to listen to their needs and to help them advocate/explain these needs to the wider community, in an effort to heal the wrongs of the past.
This invitation from our First Nations brothers and sisters arose from the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart, but indigenous Australians’ attempts to have a self-determining voice over matters that affect them, go back to the initial time of white colonisation in 1770. However, many past attempts have been overruled by successive governments. So NHG believes the time is now well overdue, and we believe that a change to Australia’s Constitution is the best way of perpetuating this Voice in an enduring, inalienable manner that cannot be changed.
NHG urges all of our stakeholders to fully acquaint themselves with the history leading up to, and the landscape surrounding the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and encourages our stakeholders to vote YES in the upcoming referendum on 14th October 2023.