A COALITION of multicultural communities have thrown their support behind the Voice while unofficial No rallies took place across Australia over the weekend.
Multicultural Australia for the Voice is part of Yes23, and contains more than 100 ethnic associations from all over Australia who support the Voice.
Ethnic Communities Council of Western Australia (ECCWA) is one of the signatories from WA, alongside the Afghan Islamic Association of Western Australia and the Bosnian Islamic Society. Other national signatories include the Irish Support Agency, the Vietnamese Women’s Association and Latin Stories Australia.
ECCWA Yes23 program officer Suresh Rajan, who is of Singaporean-Indian descent, said the ECCWA was the peak body for ethnic communities in WA, and said he had been stressing the importance of voting in the referendum to culturally and linguistically diverse communities across Perth.
Mr Rajan said the ECCWA endorsed the Yes vote because it will help Aboriginal people have governance over issues that affect them.
“We’re now in this place in Australia where after 235 years of colonisation, we’ve asked ‘what do we need to do to help Aboriginal people gain governance over their own issues.’
“And that’s what we see the Voice as doing,” he said.
Mr Rajan said there has been a lot of critics who don’t understand that many other communities already have their own voice to parliament.
“I’m on myriad committees, all culturally and linguistically diverse, to state and federal governments,” he said.
“I’ve always been very passionate about multicultural issues, but I’m also very passionate about that intersection between Aboriginal communities and the multicultural communities.
“We’ve always had a problem in Australia, in the Aboriginal communities not considering themselves as part of the multicultural community, and the multicultural community not understanding what the Aboriginal communities have been through.’’
Mr Rajan said Australia’s multicultural communities provide different perspectives on issues that Australia faces, but their groups will also never fully understand the dispossession that the Aboriginal communities have gone through.
He said now that many of the signatory nations have gained independence from colonisation, they empathise with Indigenous communities struggles with the effects of colonisation.
“They are still feeling the effect of that colonisation, even today, 240 years later.
“We have a lot to offer those communities in assisting them to move on from that colonisation experience to get to that stage where they have a voice in parliament, they have voice about their own governance.
“We need to preserve the rights of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters,” he said.
Meanwhile, protesters against the Voice to Parliament gathered at Forrest Place in Perth over the weekend.
Speakers for the event included Legalise Cannabis MLC Brian Walker, as well as a host of others who had labelled themselves as a ‘vaccine victim researcher’ and a sexologist who claimed to protect children from grooming.
The flyer for the event lists various grievances such as stopping ‘15-minute cities’ as well as seeking accountability for vaccine injuries, tackling the cost-of-living crisis, stopping the war in Ukraine and freeing Julian Assange.
Indigenous speakers at the event included director of Indigenous Services Australia Tony Shaw alongside Rex Bellotti, Greg Martin and Cindy Roberts.
The West Australian has linked the protests to Simeon Boikov, who spreads pro-Putin content and misinformation surrounding vaccines online, and also reported that four members from the far-right group the Proud Boys were in attendance.
Mr Boikov is currently in the Russian embassy in Sydney after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Similar protests over east saw neo-Nazis in attendance in Melbourne, while former United Australia candidate Craig Kelly spoke at the Sydney event, alongside a host of others.
No campaigners Fair Australia said the events were not supported or endorsed by the official No campaign in any way.
Tony Shaw and Dr Walker were contacted for comment.