ZANETA MASCARENHAS MP
VOICE OFFERS A UNITED FUTURE FOR MULTICULTURAL AUSTRALIA
THE NEW DAILY
MONDAY 11 SEPTEMBER 2023
Thousands of people move to our beautiful country every year for a number of reasons – to escape persecution, to create a better life for their family, and to reunite with loved ones.
My dad came to Australia in 1976 as a skilled migrant and worked hard building a better life for our family.
Growing up in the Western Australian goldfields, we shared a vision of a community where everyone lends each other a helping hand, and everyone is treated equally.
My family shared in the Australian dream. My family invested in the values of the country that became their home and my birthplace.
There are now more than 270 different ethnic groups in Australia. All groups can, and do, participate in Australian multiculturalism, simultaneously retaining a distinct and unique culture.
Diversity makes us stronger.
Although we come from different places with different heritage, we are united by one common place: Australia. We think of Australia as a place where all people are equal.
But right now, that is not the case.
There are challenges unique to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Life expectancy for Indigenous Australians is eight years shorter than non-Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders experience worse rates of disease and infant mortality, and suicides as twice as high than for other Australians.
I believe constitutional recognition through a Voice is our chance to do better. It’s our chance to make practical change to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians.
And it’s our chance to bring our country together.
I sense the spirit of unity in the community. It shows in numbers, and people who want to help win this referendum.
This is the culture I want to foster for a future Australia. A culture that respects and embraces the concept of community.
It starts with recognition and listening.
Recognition of the 65,000 years of culture and traditions to be enshrined in the Constitution. Listening to advice from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the matters that affect their lives so governments can make better decisions. This will get better outcomes.
None of us want to see that kind of disparity in our society. We all want to see better outcomes, better lives, and better futures for Indigenous people, just as people do for themselves when they come to this country.
Australians from all walks of life, all faiths and cultures, and all sides of politics have lent their support to the Yes campaign.
One, the Hazara community, are behind the Voice. They are the persecuted Afghan refugees that recall their ‘torment of powerlessness’ they liken to Indigenous disadvantage and disempowerment.
Amir Singh, an Indian-Sikh and the 2023 Australian Local Hero of the Year, is travelling the country drumming up support for the Voice from multicultural groups and regional communities under the banner ‘Come on mate, it’s a fair call’.
Our history is full of unifying moments of change that were hard won. We now look back and wonder what the fuss was all about.
My father was initially knocked back by Australia after being told he had the right skills but “was the wrong colour”.
It was the dismantling of the last parts of the White Australia policy that changed history, for me and the country.
The apology to the Stolen Generations is now remembered as an important moment of healing.
I do not want to imagine Australia without these historic moments. What I want is all Australians to take the next step towards a brighter, more united future. Together, let’s vote Yes.
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