Whether you plan to vote Yes or No at the highly anticipated referendum on the Voice, it’s likely you still have questions about the details, not least around what a Yes vote will actually mean.
This weekend – in a bid to help inform people – several Yes voters who are concerned that the ‘Don’t know, vote No’ campaign is swaying people away from voting for change set up an information stand at the markets in Beryl St.
Well known local Dionne Devlin was joined by fellow Yes voters Denise Hampton, Clark Barrett, and Kim Vodic at a market stall on Sunday.
“We had about half a dozen people through in the first hour, and the response has been positive, with people wanting to talk about the referendum, which is good,” said Ms Devlin on the day.
“There is some opposition from people listening to that very strong No campaign coming from the federal electoral scene – Peter Dutton and Jacinta Price – and maybe don’t know the basics and the difference it will make to a community, especially to a place like Broken Hill,” Ms Devlin said. “The benefit will be really noticeable, possibly, for us.
“It’s about fairness and being a combined community and taking advantage of all the assets of all the people. This gives us an opportunity to do that.
“It’s brilliant that Maari Ma is voting Yes. We’re just here today to give out the information, to untangle it all so we’re not making our decisions based on sound bites from the news or ugliness on the radio,” she said. “I feel like we’re smarter than ‘if you don’t know, vote no’. We can actually find answers and then make up our own minds.
“We’re giving out very general information all run through RMIT FactLab [RMIT’s fact checking program] and we’ve printed out words from the Uluru Statement so people can actually see what’s in there and just sit with the words – and see that there’s nothing to panic about. There’s only good that can come from this,” said Ms Devlin.
Denise Hampton said she decided to be involved because, as a Yes voter, she wants things to be different so she’s helping to inform people in our community.
“Our people have been fighting for lots of things for many, many years and we’re still talking about the same issues because it’s around those policies and practises that have an impact when it comes to improvement – like Closing the Gap – we haven’t seen real improvements there that we want to see,” she said.
“The Voice is an opportunity to do something different – to have our voices heard from a grassroots level. Decisions have been made for us, and not always with us.”
When asked why she thinks people are voting No, Ms Hampton said even Aboriginal people are expressing fears about their sovereignty.
“People have different opinions. We just want to see us in the Constitution because over many, many years we’ve seen organisations implemented, and a new government gets in and the organisations are abolished,” she said.
“All we want is for all people to be heard in Parliament. People say, we’ve already got Aboriginal politicians, but they’re not representing us all, they’re representing their constituents where they run, which is a big difference.
“Young people are often on social media so they’re seeing a lot of negative information which impacts on how they vote. There’s lots of conspiracy theories and it’s being made much more political than it really is.
“The voting is only about whether we should go in the Constitution. And what that will look like, we don’t know. But hopefully we will have a say. I’m guessing that we will have a say in how that representation is going to be for all of us,” said Ms Hampton.
People I talk to, that’s the very thing they talk about. But we say, well, you know, we’ve got to make sure hopefully it will come back to us to have a say in how that is. It’s for us as people – Aboriginal people – to come up with the best way of getting represented at that level.”
PICTURE: Left to Right: Denise Hampton, Kim Vodic, Dionne Devlin, Clark Barrett