Yes23 volunteers, Bassendean MLA Dave Kelly and Kelly Ovens with their wobbleboards. Picture: Gera Kazakov

Voice campaigns underway as polls remain close

Both the Yes and No camps are campaigning across the eastern suburbs.
September 7, 2023
Gera Kazakov

ADVOCATES for either side of the Voice referendum have begun to make themselves heard, with Yes23 beginning doorknocking and wobbleboarding campaigns.

Yes23 volunteer Kelly Ovens said voting yes was the next step to reconciliation in modern Australia.

“I don’t think it’s a divisive thing at all, I think it’s actually a uniting thing,” she said.   

Ms Ovens said the government’s attempts to help Indigenous Australians had fallen short, and the Voice provided a new way to help Indigenous Australians in need.

“I do think it’s an opportunity for Australians to be able to listen to Indigenous peoples, for them to be able to tell us what their communities need,” she said.      

She said there had been mostly positive reactions to her and her fellow campaigners holding vote yes signs at busy intersections throughout the Bassendean area.

“Lots of positive, some negative, but that’s part of democracy.

“People who are saying this is divisive, well that’s why referendums are there, it’s a process within our democracy.

“We have to be brave enough and mature enough to make some hard decisions sometimes.”

Ms Ovens said as far as she was aware the Yes23 campaign was all financed by volunteers.

Bassendean MLA Dave Kelly has been ‘wobbleboarding’ for the Yes23 campaign and said that the referendum was an important decision for the country to make.

“I think we all recognise that Aboriginal people have worse life expectancies, they have worse educational outcomes than non-Aboriginal Australians, and I just want to ensure that every kid has an opportunity to have the life that we all think they deserve.

“This is just one of the things that we can do to level the playing field for the next generation of Aboriginal young people,” he said.

Mr Kelly said the Voice was about having an advisory body that will be made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“It won’t have the ability to change laws, it won’t have the ability to veto policies, it will just be another voice at the table that government can choose to listen too – or not.

“It’s what Aboriginal people have asked us for, so it’s important that we take this step,” he said.

Mr Kelly said it’s been great fun getting out in the community showing his support for the Yes23 campaign.

“It’s more interactive than you think – lots of people wave, lots of people toot, some people wind their windows down and give you a bit of free advice, but it’s been good,” he said.


Proud Noongar woman Janetia Knapp is advocating for No in the upcoming referendum.

Ms Knapp, who has been a candidate for the Western Australia Party at the federal and state elections, said that this constitutional change is unnecessary as parliament already has the means to make changes through effective legislation.

“Aboriginals were given a voice in the 1967 referendum,” she said.

“We are now all being misled.

“The government wastes billions every month now, in the wrong areas, but our politicians are accountable every three years – this voice group is not.

“We have 11 Indigenous members of parliament now – let us all work together.

“Only the elite group that are pushing for this constitutional change will be better off.

“Many of us will then have no voice,” she said.

The latest Essential Research poll, released on September 5, shows the No campaign leading 48 percent, with Yes sitting at 42 per cent.

No campaigners Fair Australia were contacted for comment.

Privately owned, proudly independent local news service.

ALL IMAGES & WORDS © 2023 Echo Newspaper
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram