On the outcome of the Voice Referendum
On Saturday October 14, approximately 60% of Australian voters rejected a proposed change to the national constitution which would have recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of Australia. It would also have established an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to make representations to the Parliament on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The referendum emerged from more than 20 years of national conversation about the best way to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia’s constitution. The proposed change had been endorsed by many parts of the Anglican Church, most importantly the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council (NATSIAC) and the National Aboriginal Bishop. It also had significant endorsement from other Christian churches and leaders of other faiths. Although ABM accepts the referendum outcome, we recognise that it has been felt as a personal blow by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Among them, leaders and elders who have worked tirelessly to make the case for change.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders have observed a week of silence in response to the referendum result. Our theology of mission leads us to affirm that we have to listen to the voices from the margins to hear what is life-affirming and what is life-destroying (World Council of Churches, Together Towards Life). ABM remains committed to listening, hearing and responding to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the Anglican Church of Australia.
Please pray for the members of NATSIAC as they meet this week for their annual Gathering. Please also pray for our church that we might have wisdom to discern where God is at work, courage to acknowledge the wounds of our past, and hope for healing and makaratta.
The Reverend Dr John Deane
ABM Executive Director