'The Voice' - My 'why' for voting yes

'The Voice' - My 'why' for voting yes

I have been very quiet on my opinions of The Voice in general and on social media because honestly it really feels very overwhelming. I am really saddened to see that The Voice has really opened that door to racism which is causing division, the complete opposite to what ‘The Voice’ is intended to do. I have struggled to know how to articulate how I really feel about this and want to share my why for voting yes to The Voice without feeling like I am going to have a negative response from lots of people. To be blunt, the amount of racism I have seen over the last few months is more than I have ever seen. It is really so shameful that people can’t respectfully and kindly disagree without becoming so nasty. I know social media has a huge part to play in what we see in the YES and NO campaigns. What I see on my social media, is not what you will see. What follows in this blog is my opinion, based on what I personally have experienced and what aligns to my own values. I have always been extremely passionate about Aboriginal culture in every aspect, including speaking up for Aboriginal rights and advocating for positive change.

Not feeling comfortable enough to share my opinion in fear of creating any conflict has made me feel very withdrawn over the last few weeks. I have seen others torn down and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am worried about the implications of publicly saying YES on my business page, possibly resulting in racist comments and unnecessary negative feedback. We are ALL entitled to our opinions and there should be no need for hatred in any of it. At the end of the day, it is a huge topic of conversation at the moment whether we like it or not. I feel that when I see and hear some people voting ‘NO’ it is very often said with other unnecessary comments or racists connotations. I am not saying this is ALL the time but I have experienced this so much lately and it is really upsetting. It just feels like this battle between yes and no is taking us backwards in some ways and temporarily doing the opposite of what The Voice stands for.

Before I explain my ‘why’ as to my decision to vote YES, I want to address the racism issue. If you don’t think these campaigns have opened the doors to racism, go and have a look at some of the comments on the AFL page of the hundreds of people who are supporting people like Sam Newman. Have a look at comments on news articles on your own social media when it involves an Aboriginal person. I have had to remove comments from my own business page, horrible, unnessarry and irrelevant comments on my artwork that I have had to delete. I often don’t post anymore because I know I may not have full access to my phone that day and I worry I cannot monitor comments. It honestly gives me anxiety and it is upsetting. I will share the screenshots I have of these one day, it is not necessary right now. It is so disappointing and saddening to experience and I have no other words for it and fail to understand why some (not all) people can be so cruel when pushing their no votes on others.

Now to my ‘why’..  I will be frank, I have had the odd person on my social media making comments about my fair skin and questioning my Aboriginality (not that I have ever felt I have to explain it to anyone). I am Aboriginal on my Father’s side and I am proudly a White Australian on my Mother’s side. Both of my parents worked extremely hard to give me a great life, I had the ideal upbringing and the opportunities I have been given in my life, I am extremely grateful for. I know there are thousands of Aboriginal people who are fortunate to be a in a similar position to me and who work every day to make positive change. The reason I feel like I need to explain this is because, I am not just voting ‘YES’ for myself. I am voting YES because I have friends, family and an Aboriginal community to support that were NOT fortunate enough to get the opportunities my family were given. I am voting YES for the Aboriginal people who this day are still suffering the consequences of displacement, identity loss, disconnected families just to name a few. The people suffering the consequences of actions against their families from only a few generations ago. 

There are evidently social issues regarding housing, unemployment, crime, youth, healthcare, education etc. in communities all over Australia including in Perth where my family is from and the Pilbara where I now live. What I fail to understand is WHY is it such a bad thing to have representation from these regions to be a Voice to parliament, sharing advice on how funding can be best utilised on the ground. I have worked in Aboriginal employment and I have worked in the prisons. I have seen where government systems have let people down. This work always took it’s toll on me, although I was able to provide help and support to some people, there were too many issues I couldn’t fix and it often felt like a losing battle. I am very confident The Voice has the potential to make practical positive changes by getting the right advice from elected community members living the experience and maybe changes can be made. At the end of the day something more has to happen because it is not working and our Aboriginal communities deserve our support to be given a voice for themselves.

I wasn’t going to raise this but figure a tanglible example may help my cause and better explain my why. I was in the hospital waiting room with my son last week. I got chatting to a lovely lady next to me, this lady so happened to be Aboriginal. We got chatting about our kids who were waiting to see the Doctor. This lady was there with two teenage girls who she told me, the police had bought over to her house at 3am in the morning the week before. She explained that she currently had 9 children living with her as her home had become a bit of a ‘safe haven’ for girls in town who were experiencing issues at home. At her home lived 7 girls ages ranging from 3 to 14 and had one little boy who was only 3. The lady was at the hospital because two of the girls had contracted a virus from one of the new children in her home. NONE of these children were registered with the Department of Child Protection meaning, this lady has no financial means of supporting these kids. There could be a few reasons these kids were delivered to her door by the police. There are minimal foster care options for kids in crisis, there is a formal process you have to go through to get funding for foster care (I know I have looked into it deeply) and in times of crisis that is not always possible immediately not to mention situations are ever changing. It could also be that these kids have a connection to this lady whether it be through family, friends and so this is there safe place. This lady was stressed in the waiting room as she had to go to the Salvation Army before it closed in the hopes she was able to get a free food hamper before the end of the day, which is not always guaranteed so at the point she wasn’t even sure if she could feed the kids. The next day I messaged her to ask if there was anything I could do for her and she mentioned that one of the girls had been taken away by DCP and was going through a ‘formal’ foster process with another family who would eventually get funding to help her. This lady in my opinion is one of the most self-less, incredible people I have met and this is one example out of thousands where the system has failed. It is people like this lady, that have voices that need to be heard. A body of people giving advice and guidance on what is actually going on from a grass root perspective will help make practical change to the people just like this incredible woman, who really need it. In this particular case, I don’t know what the answer would be, that is what politicians are for! It at least gives them the opportunity to have real stories and feedback directly from regions around Australia about what the real issues are that are affecting them and where funding would be best utilised. It is giving people the power to provide guidance on issues that directly affect them. These issues while possibly similar may differ from region to region and so representation from each is invaluable.

I do try to keep my page and my social media a positive place where I share my art and some of my personal journey. Whilst I normally refrain from over-sharing my opinions on social issues, I would regret not sharing how I am feeling towards this and encourage you to look at issues from a different perspective. Ask questions, have empathy and gain an understanding on why this is so important to so many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. If your choice is still no, that is ok too. I just really would ask people to try and learn more. Don’t fall in to the ‘if you don’t know, vote no’… If you are unsure, find out. This opportunity for change is too great to pass. If your answer is still no, please just show respect and compassion to people who this really means so much to. Seeing some people saying ‘NO’ and sharing fear mongering, dangerous and false information is so hurtful. You are entitled to your own opinions but it never has to be unkind. I am also always open to hearing others opinions in a practical and respectful way. I also am willing to admit when I am wrong and will proudly stand up for what I believe to be the right thing, all I will try and encourage is for you to do the same.

I want to mention as well, a heartfelt thank you so much to the people and the friends that have shared nothing but support and kindness. Like I said, I am proudly Aboriginal and White Australian and have had a privileged life. The Voice won’t affect me personally but I care deeply about these issues and other Aboriginal people and seeing support from so many people gives me a feeling that is hard to explain. To people that have proudly supported a YES vote, to the people who take the time to learn more, even to the people that are choosing to vote no for their own reasons but choose not to share misinformation or hurtful posts. Luckily, despite the negativity there are people who lift you back up.

To me and so many others a YES shows continued support to our Aboriginal brothers and sisters. There is no doubt that I am absolutely 100% about moving forward united and not divided. There is no point in dwelling on the past, rather acknowledge, learn from it and help each other to move forward. Our children, our future generations deserve this. Not only are we helping in a practical way by have a ‘Voice’, showing support by a YES vote gives a chance to show some of our most vulnerable communities that we are not leaving them behind.


I feel like I have so much more I want to express and say but I will leave it at that. I want to include an extract from Prime Minister Paul Keating, speaking at the launch of the international year for World’s Indigenous People in 1972.


As I said, it might help us if we non-Aboriginal Australians imagined ourselves dispossessed of land we had lived on for fifty thousand years and then imagined ourselves told that it had never been ours. Imagine if ours was the oldest culture in the world and we were told that it was worthless.

Imagine if we had resisted this settlement, suffered and died in the defence of our land, and then were told in history books that we had given up without a fight.
Imagine if non-Aboriginal Australians had served their country in peace and war and were then ignored in history books.
Imagine if our feats on sporting fields had inspired admiration and patriotism and yet did nothing to diminish prejudice.
Imagine if our spiritual life was denied and ridiculed.
Imagine if we had suffered the injustice and then were blamed for it.
It seems to me that if we can imagine the injustice we can imagine its opposite. And we can have Justice.
I say that for two reasons: I say it because I believe that the great things about Australian social democracy reflect a fundamental belief in justice. And I say it because in so many other areas we have proved our capacity over the years to go on extending the realms of participation, opportunity and care.
Just as Australians living in the relatively narrow and insular Australia of the 1960s imagined a culturally diverse, worldly and open Australia, and in a generation turned the idea into reality, so we can turn the goals of reconciliation into reality. There are very good signs that the process has begun.


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1 comment

Brilliant, Tana. If I was ever in doubt about whether I should vote Yes or No, (and I was never in doubt!), you have confirmed my decision to vote in the affirmative. 👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

Barry Gardner

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