Multicultural communities rally behind the Voice

Australian Jewish NewsJune 1, 2023

The growing nationwide alliance of multicultural groups has issued a joint resolution urging “all Australians to work together to ensure referendum success”.

Over 110 ethnic and cultural community organisations have committed their “steadfast support” for a “Yes” vote in the upcoming Voice referendum.

“The referendum on constitutional recognition of First Nations Australians and a First Nations Voice raises questions which transcend political and cultural divides,” Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) co-CEO Peter Wertheim said.

He noted that this is why “so many multicultural and faith communities which usually align with different sides of the political spectrum have united to support the overwhelming majority of Indigenous Australians in backing the referendum”.

The growing nationwide alliance of multicultural groups has issued a joint resolution urging “all Australians to work together to ensure referendum success”.

Sign-ups via the website accelerated following the Liberal Party’s decision to oppose Indigenous constitutional recognition through a Voice. The growing list of over 110 signatories includes multiple Jewish organisations, including AUJS, ECAJ, NCJWA, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Netzer Olami, the Jewish Sustainability Initiative, and Stand Up.

There are also signatories from Indian and Chinese community organisations, along with Sri Lankan, Italian, Irish, Iranian, Greek, Vietnamese, Filipino, Sikh, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Pacific Islander community groups and many more.

The joint resolution describes the Voice as “modest, practical and fair”. It says: “As leaders of diverse multicultural community organisations … We commit our steadfast support, and urge all Australians to work together to ensure referendum success.”

President of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) Alissa Foster said, “So many times, as Jewish people we are spoken over or not heard on issues impacting us. We have asked to be listened to when making decisions that affect us. First Nations Australians have asked for a Voice so that they can be heard and listened to on issues which impact their community, and their ask is clear; it is to vote for a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.”

President of the National Sikh Council of Australia, Sadar Ajmer Singh Gill, made a moral case for the Voice referendum.

“I say to the politicians withholding support for Indigenous peoples’ modest request to have a guaranteed Voice in their own affairs: Sikh Australians are watching. Migrants, multifaith and multicultural communities are watching,” Gill said, adding, “We are watching and we vote.”

Young Jewish Australians are also getting involved, as seen last Friday on the sixth anniversary of the Uluru Statement from the Heart when a collection of young Jews from across the country read, recorded and shared on social media the statement in their own voice – Hebrew.

Jewish Youth for Yes is a group focused on organising and engaging Jewish youth to support a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum, by sharing resources and providing education.

Foster explained the purpose of the video was “to begin a conversation within the Jewish community, that this is a chance for all Australians to be the generation that listens and understands”.

She added, “Young people and multicultural communities play a key role in the Voice discussion, recognising the importance of the referendum’s success for the future of our country.”