VOTING for the Voice to Parliament referendum will take place on Saturday, October 14.
Polling places will be open from 8am to 6pm, with Greenmount PS, Caversham PS, Helena Valley PS, Swan View SHS, Midland North Metropolitan TAFE and the Ascension Parish Hall some of the polling places in the Echo News readership.
Hasluck for Yes campaigner Wanita Bartholomeusz has been speaking at Voice panels around the Midland area leading up to referendum day.
She is a traditional custodian of Darlot country, in the Northern Goldfields.
Now living in Stratton, Mrs Bartholomeusz was awarded a public service medal at the start of the year for her work with WA police, and won an International Microsoft social impact award last year for an Aboriginal language program which put the rights of custody in first language.
“My lived professional experience, I feel, does need to be listened to because I was the highest serving public servant for a large point in time in the WA police,” she said.
She said she spent the past 15 years managing the WA police Aboriginal Affairs Division, a position which she said has put her on the ground and engaging local Indigenous communities across the state.
“I’ve dealt with the good, the bad, the ugly. I dealt with the police shooting, the boys in the Swan River drowning, the riots in Kalgoorlie,” she said.
“I’ve been on the coal face of cultural changes in that agency which has made a difference, and that was bringing voices – not just my voice, but bringing voices from families’ struggling.
“It meant that the engagement was done with respect and with cultural understanding and protocol.”
She said many organisations already have Indigenous advisory bodies – she said she currently sits on Swan Districts Aboriginal advisory board, and that the WA police also has its own Aboriginal advisory body.
On September 20, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Dr Tony Buti also announced an Aboriginal Advisory body for the education department.
“The Voice itself is not a new concept,” she said.
Mrs Batholomeusz said non-Aboriginal people working in areas such as education, policing and housing will benefit from the Voice as it will help them deliver better, more inclusive outcomes for all.
“Aboriginal issues are really not just Aboriginal issues, they’re socio-economic and poverty driven issues,” she said.
“If you enhance the well-being of Aboriginal people, you enhance their health, their education, you enhance their employment, so instead of becoming a taxpayer user – they become a taxpayer.
“They become a contributing person, paying tax, getting jobs, being employed.”
Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook is not so convinced that the Voice will benefit all Australians.
Speaking on his own opinion, which he said doesn’t necessarily reflect all PGA members, he instead believes the Voice will only bring division to the country.
“We are equal – everyone of us… today, we are all absolutely equal,” he said.
“I’m voting no, because I don’t want to see our nation divided. (Fair Australia No campaigner) Jacinta Price has said all along – every one of us is equal.
“A Yes outcome, doesn’t make us all equal, it makes one group of society more equal than the other.”
Mr Seabrook lives in York and criticised the amount of money spent on the referendum and said the current lobbying groups that exist are more than enough.
“We’re going to spend $400 million on this referendum, and what are we going to get out of it? Division.”
On October 5 the PGA had their open day with Federal Liberal leader Peter Dutton, Fair Australia No campaigner Warren Mundine and several WA Liberals attending.
Speaking at the PGA conference, Mr Dutton said that millions of Australians want to help Indigenous Australians in communities such as Leonora, Laverton, Alice Springs and Tenant Creek, but said that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Voice proposal had no detail as to whether it would.
“We live in the best country in the world – and we want to make sure that if there is a change to the constitution, that it’s done for the right reasons,” he said.
“I hope that Australians on October 14 vote No.”
Resolve Polling released on October 8 showed 39 per cent support for the Voice from WA.
The polling showed Queensland with the lowest levels of support with 36 per cent, while Tasmania had the highest at 56 per cent.