Nation’s teacher unions back Yes for Voice vote 

Federation has affirmed its commitment to the Yes campaign for the First Nations Voice referendum through a decision of the Australian Education Union’s (AEU) National Conference. 

Federation’s Aboriginal Education Coordinator Russell Honnery, who is Chair of Yalukit Yulendj (National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Committee of the AEU), said it was a historic moment that symbolised the first step towards Australia’s reconciliation with its past. 

Mr Honnery addressed AEU delegates, political leaders and the media in Melbourne in Februar,y welcoming the education union’s commitment to the Yes campaign for the upcoming referendum to enshrine the First Nations Voice in the Australian Constitution. 

“In 2017, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people gave Australia the gift of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and in 2018, the AEU and other education unions endorsed it. Today, we ask you to walk with us to support the Voice to Parliament.  

“The United Nations Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples, article 3 says, ‘States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representation institutions in order to obtain their free, prior consent.’ 

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have continually called for representation in decision making about their own affairs. This year, 2023 is the time to finally make this happen in Australia.  

Mr Honnery said the three fundamental changes – Voice, Treaty, Truth – are all parts of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, with Voice being the first reform. A Makarrata Commission will then support the process of Treaty and Truth. 

Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos said Federation is guided by our Aboriginal members and bound by our Annual Conference and Council decisions to do its utmost to secure a positive outcome in the referendum. 

“Annual Conference of 2018 committed us to embrace the Uluru Statement from the Heart and deliver on Voice, Treaty, Truth. Given our history, we will do our utmost to secure that outcome alongside the union movement, which has also made this determination. 

“If we do not do so, not only will we have missed an opportunity to continue on that nation building journey, that journey of reconciliation … it would be a disastrous repudiation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.”