Panel for Voice

THE University of Notre Dame is holding a panel discussion next Thursday on this year’s referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. 

The event is intended to “encourage a dialogue” about changes which would see First Nations people recognised in Australia’s constitution, says event organiser and Notre Dame senior politics lecturer Martin Drum.

“We all have different perspectives, it’s not intended to be yes vs no, it’s intended to try and explain,” Dr Drum said.

He’s a panellist alongside Notre Dame Indigenous studies professor Steve Kinnane, Pindi Pindi Centre for Research in Aboriginal Wellbeing founder Cheryl Kickett-Tucker and former judge Michael Barker.

Mr Kinnane said he would provide “a Kimberley perspective” on the Voice. 

“How would a Kimberley voice speak to a national voice,” he said.

Other than Dr Drum, the three panellists have all publicly declared their support for the Voice. 

But Notre Dame’s Indigenous artist in residence Janetia Knapp is also a candidate for the WA Party and recently took out full page advertisements opposing the Voice. She was disappointed not to have been informed about the event.

“Being from an independent party, it would be good even to attend to ask a question, because the 1997 referendum gave me a voice,” she said.

Ms Knapp said the millions of dollars needed to hold a referendum, change the constitution and establish a bureaucracy would be better spent directly on housing, education or the health needs of First Nations people. 

Ms Knapp said from her discussion with other Noongars she felt women hadn’t been sufficiently consulted over the referendum change. 

“The grassroots women who go to the courts, who go to family courts, who are at the forefront of holding families together; I think they would rather the money go elsewhere, to dealing with issues like incarceration, rehabilitation, education,” she said.

The event is being held this Thursday, April 13 at 6.30pm in Farley Hall at the University of Notre Dame.


From the ground up

I’M a Marda-Marda from Miriwoong Country in the Kimberley.  

The intent of the Voice to Parliament is to elevate and amplify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander input across the nation into laws, policies and programs that will impact our peoples. 

For Aboriginal peoples of my region, the question of how Our Voice will express our collective views while upholding the cultural governance that underpins us is real and present. 

Kimberley Mob have been carrying our voices to Canberra for some 55 years since the 1967 Referendum. 

Our leaders have patiently redeveloped our own regional governance founded in tacit cultural authority and history on three key fronts; to the State, to the Feds, and to the United Nations. 

Some have even met with Australia’s Head of State – The Queen (now King Charles III)! Different structures, models, processes, initiatives, trials, bi-lateral and tri-lateral agreements have come and gone, always with cumulative impacts, some good, many far from it.  

If the Voice Referendum is passed this will be the first time such a mechanism has been constitutionally enshrined, and as such, unable to be swept aside like so many that preceded it.

I’m keen to discuss our own evidence of what works and what doesn’t in our region, and to question how The 

Voice (assuming a successful referendum), can connect with the 34 language groups and five cultural blocs that underpin and sustain us as Kimberley peoples.


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