The current debate surrounding the Voice to Parliament carries significant emotional weight. This is particularly true for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. There is a profound burden borne by First Nations peoples, and as an organisation deeply rooted in the tradition of social justice, we recognise and see this burden.
Centacare Catholic Family Services supports the Voice to Parliament as an authentic step in working towards meaningful reconciliation. It offers a lasting and stable platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to offer counsel and, more importantly, to be heard by the government on matters that deeply impact First Nations communities. This process is intricately woven into the trinity of Truth, Treaty, and Reconciliation.
Centacare wholeheartedly embraces the Uluru Statement of the Heart as a generous invitation to walk alongside in the relentless pursuit of recognition, reconciliation, and justice. As an organisation, we are steadfastly committed to advocating for a fairer and more inclusive Australian society that not only reflects but actively supports the dignity, equality, and participation of all its citizens. We firmly believe that embedding a Voice in the Commonwealth Government’s Constitution is an important milestone in realising this vision.
Our position is grounded in the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, with a particular emphasis on the tenet of Subsidiarity: that decisions should be made by those who are closest to and most affected by the issues and concerns within a community. We believe that a permanent and resourced representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to deliberate and provide advice on critical matters that affect First Nations peoples, will pave the way for both tangible improvements and, in time, transformational opportunity.
We also acknowledge the complexities of the proposed Voice to Parliament within Aboriginal communities and that there are many paths to reconciliation. Furthermore, the work to unpick the ongoing impact of colonisation belongs to us all; work that will continue with or without formal constitutional recognition.
Our support for the Voice to Parliament is tied to our foundational commitment to justice, equality, and inclusivity. It is a call for a more harmonious Australia, one that not only hears but truly listens to the voices of its First Nations peoples, ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are empowered to actively shape their lives and their communities.