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A Voice to Parliament

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Hedland Aboriginal Strong Leaders released a statement about the importance of voting for a constitutional change for a Voice to Parliament.


Hedland Aboriginal Strong Leaders (HASL) and Julyardi Aboriginal Corporation have affirmed their support of Australia’s First Nations people in our call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.


“The Yartil (senior Elders) have been fighting for a Voice since 1946 when more than 23 men travelled by foot and car to Perth to talk with the government. The government of the day wouldn’t even meet with them. Hedland Aboriginal Strong Leaders who are descendants of these old people are proud to support the Voice to Parliament. This is the first step on our journey to a treaty. We ask for all Australians to stand with us on October 14th and vote YES for our voice”, stated Raylene Button, Kariyarra Elder and Co-Chair HASL.


HASL views the establishment of an independent Voice as paving the way for transformative change and a move towards equality in Australia. This historic moment allows the First People of this land to advise on matters that are of concern to them.

“We have worked for this for the last 235 years. We have come together for the 1967 referendum and Mabo to become Australian citizens and have access to our land and heritage. We have overcome so many barriers. We are calling on all Australians to vote YES for the next step in the journey”, Alfred Barker, Karyiarra Elder, Co-Chair HASL.


It's crucial to work collaboratively to ensure that Aboriginal people’s needs, aspirations and rights are acknowledged, respected, and addressed, fostering a more equitable and inclusive future.

MK Kelly, Ngarluma Elder, Co-Vice-Chair, believes that she will see change by voting yes. “I do not want my children or great-grandchildren to have to apply for citizenship like my parents and grandparents had to do to prove they were citizens of this country”, said MK Kelly.


Hedland Aboriginal Strong Leaders and Hedland Emerging Aboriginal Leaders (NGUKU), a collective of emerging leaders working closely with the HASL Elders, believe this is a step in the right direction as they continue this journey with all Australians.


“Our people have always had a voice. They have been advocating and calling for justice, equity, and basic human rights for generations for our mob. The difference now is that we have the opportunity to let those voices be heard and for those voices to be echoed all the way over to Canberra, where many of the decisions that impact our People and our Communities are made”, said Henry Lockyer, Banyjima Man, and member of Hedland Emerging Aboriginal Leaders.


Regional communities like the Pilbara will benefit if there is a Yes outcome from the referendum. Lockyer explained that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, including regional and remote areas, will be consulted on how it can work in their area. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples will also be the ones who vote for their representatives who will be included in The Voice.

“This approach recognises and supports the effectiveness of allowing our mob to have a say and be included in the process - something that our future generations can benefit from. Hopefully, our non-Indigenous Brothers and Sisters will recognise this and vote for the type of change that we’ve been waiting for”, Henry Lockyer concluded.


The Uluru Statement declares: “We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”. Australians will have the chance to engage in this process during the upcoming referendum in October. It is important that any debate is respectful and evidence-based, recognising the diversity of opinions held by individuals. HASL and NGUKU strongly encourage those participating in the vote to seek out information to guide their decisions, not only including but prioritising First Nations sources.






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