Voice Referendum – Micah supports Yes

Micah Australia is a coalition of Christian international development agencies, led by Rev. Tim Costello AO, mobilising the Australian Church to advocate on the most urgent global justice issues facing our world today.

Micah was birthed out of a global movement more than twenty years ago, that recognised the need to create space for the voices of the Global South and marginalised communities to be able to speak truth to power.

It is in our DNA to create such spaces and to mobilise and gather Australian Christians from all walks of life to stand in solidarity with these voices, while also adding their own.

We believe the same should be done here in Australia, with First Nations peoples having the opportunity to advocate and provide advice on decision making which affects First Nations communities. It is in this spirit that we welcome the opportunity to give First Australians a Voice to Parliament that is enshrined in the Constitution.

As a Christian movement, we seek a world in which the Biblical vision for flourishing is actualised, with thriving communities and the dignity of all people recognised. We know that this vision has not yet come to be – internationally or here in Australia. This is particularly seen in the disparities between First Nations peoples and nonIndigenous Australians in health, wellbeing, education, incarceration rates and more. The Voice is an important opportunity towards flourishing, with the 250+ Aboriginal leaders who helped draft the Uluru Statement from the Heart believing that through the proposed Constitutional reform First Nations peoples will be ‘empowered’ and ‘children will flourish’.

First Nations peoples have often struggled to gain the same access to present their interests to Government that other interest groups may have. The Voice to Parliament provides a way forward for our national leaders to hear the concerns and interests of First Nations peoples and will enable Parliament to make informed decisions on policies that directly affect Aboriginal communities.

Micah has always acknowledged that our work for global justice must go hand in hand with pursuing justice and reconciliation here at home. We see this referendum as a key moment of justice advocacy in our nation, to face the wrong doings of the past and take a concrete step towards stronger relationships with our First Nations people. Our position has been informed through the members of our Coalition – a strong majority of whom are themselves supporting and campaigning for ‘Yes’ – as well as our role in helping to co-lead and convene the Pacific Australian Emerging Leaders Network, which involves and is guided by First Nations elders and emerging leaders.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart has been summarised with the Yolngu word Makarrata, meaning ‘the coming together after a struggle’. This idea is one of reconciliation, which is at the core of the Christian faith. This opportunity for Makarrata through the Voice to Parliament is a powerful way to live out our faith and engage in reconciliation as a nation.

As we follow Jesus’ example to ‘Love our neighbour as yourself’ (Mt 22:39) and seek the flourishing of justice (Mic 6:8), we believe this is an important moment for the Australian Church to be unified in supporting our First Nations people.

We support the call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament which is enshrined in the Constitution and encourage churches and individuals to listen to the voices of First Nations peoples, learn more about this referendum, and engage with an open mind and heart.