The Junction Neighbourhood Centre (JNC) acknowledges the generous invitation from First Nations Australians to the Australian people in the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk together on a journey of reconciliation. We fully endorse the establishment of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Australian Constitution.
We firmly believe that the Voice to Parliament is just a first step, which will pave the way for the other components of the Uluru Statement, treaty making and truth telling. We believe that the Voice is an appropriate act of recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and a crucial first step towards justice, reconciliation and healing. We also acknowledge the right to self-determination for First Nations People and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
By ensuring decisions affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and people are guided by their own wisdom, we hope that as a nation we can address some of the most pressing issues that result from colonisation and intergenerational disadvantage, facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities today. These include unacceptable over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection and justice systems ; high rates of incarceration; overcrowded housing and homelessness; low levels of literacy in children: and poor health and life expectancy outcomes. We expect that the Voice will hold governments to account for achieving the Closing the Gap targets and enable First Nations People to have a real say in the way policies and services are developed. JNC is committed to supporting meaningful change in our relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The upcoming referendum on the Voice, happening on Saturday 14 October, is one of the most important moments in the history of our democracy. We acknowledge that, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, there are many different views on the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Voice. We also acknowledge that, in the lead up to the referendum, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People may experience trauma, heightened stress and racism. We also acknowledge that some stakeholders of JNC, including clients, community members and employees, will hold diverse perspectives and different views. We are therefore committed to promoting thoughtful discussion on these issues that is informed, respectful and where all are able to participate safely.
At JNC we embrace the learnings from First Nations People as the Traditional Custodians of the land. We are proud to work alongside First Nations communities as we collectively strive towards closing the gap. Moving forward, we will also support future steps towards the establishment of a treaty and a truth-telling commission. We hope that this important first step will contribute to creating an Australia that is a place of truth telling so that that all Australians can live in a truly equitable society.
We urge everyone to make an informed decision as they vote in the referendum on 14 October 2023.