Ballarat's two major Indigenous groups have made strong statements of support for the Voice to Parliament, when they endorsed the Yes campaign ahead of the 2023 referendum.
On the same day early voting opened, representatives from Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Corporation and Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-Operative spoke of the importance of the referendum to their members.
The Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Corporation is the representative body for the Wadawurrung people whose land covers outer western Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat.
While BADAC is a health and welfare community oraganisation for Indigenous people, which operates in the Ballarat and district area.
The Voice to Parliament referendum will take place on October 14, 2023, and will ask Australians to vote on whether to alter the constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
In a statement, the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Corporation said a clear majority of its membership supported the Voice, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had the right to be consulted on matters affecting them.
They also said Australia, unlike the United States, Canada and New Zealand, was one of the few first-world colonial nations that did not already recognise its First Peoples in its constitution.
Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Corporation general manager for recognition and negotiations Rebekah Devlin said it was vital Aboriginal voices were heard regardless of which government was in power.
"It's so important to have decision making and advice that's given, so that Aboriginal people can continue to be discussed at the highest level of parliament," she said.
"Ministers will come and go, governments will come and go, but the voice remains, and there needs to be that continuity."
Ms Devlin said there were many areas in Ballarat such as health, mental health and education that could be be improved by a Voice to Parliament, and this would benefit all parts of the community, and not just Indigenous Australians.
"This is nothing to be afraid of, this is a step in a really positive direction for all Australians," she said.
"Australia is already divided, The Voice will give all Australians the opportunity to work together and create a much more positive future for Australians.
"The Voice is just the first step, it needs to be an ongoing relationship and an ongoing priority to move towards a fair and just and unified Australia for all."
"We're talking about generational change, this is the opportunity for generational change, and I just encourage people to support The Voice."
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In a statement, BADAC said The Voice would help provide a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
BADAC chief of culture, public relations and engagement and Adnyamathanha man Shu Brown said the referendum signified progress for Indigenous people, and was a way of ensuring a better future for young Aboriginal Australians.
Despite this, Mr Brown said it had been a difficult time for Indigenous Australians, who have been subject to racism, bullying and harassment during the campaign.
"People are coming in and giving us their views and opinions to our faces, or writing anonymous letters," he said.
"Verbal and written abuse happens when Aboriginal views are highlighted, so we expected that."
"But, we need to do what's best for our community, and as an Aboriginal health organisation to look after the safety, health and well-being of our community."
Mr Brown said while it had been difficult, Ballarat's non-Indigenous community had provided strong support during the campaign.
"It's been amazing [the support from the wider community]", he said.
"Ballarat's got a Yes 23 campaign, who've been out advocating and doing a lot of the hard work.
"Part of that has been because we don't want to see our Aboriginal people in the front line and being impacted by people who have other views and other opinions.
"You don't want to subject people to racism."
Visit The Courier's Voice to Parliament site, with the facts you need to make an informed decision on October 14.
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