Companion House Statement: Referendum to establish the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

26/09/2023 at 11:01am

As a community based organization dedicated to supporting adults and children who have experienced persecution, torture and war-related trauma, we recognise the historical and contemporary impacts of colonisation and support the self-determination of Indigenous Australians. We recognise and greatly admire the strength and resilience of Indigenous Australians.

We acknowledge the rich knowledges and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have cared for this land since time immemorial and continue to do so.

We acknowledge the role of local traditional custodians and knowledge holders in Canberra, where our organization is based.

We value and appreciate that Indigenous Australians have stood alongside asylum seekers and refugees at many points throughout history to show solidarity in connection, advocacy and community. We highlight in particular the advocacy of Yorta Yorta Elder, William Cooper, who led a delegation to the German Embassy in 1938 to protest against attacks on the Jewish Community by the Nazis in Germany.

There are many paths to realising self-determination and we have the greatest respect for the diversity of views amongst Indigenous Australians as to the route.

We support the realisation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart – Voice, Treaty, Truth – and endorse the current invitation to vote ‘yes’ to constitutional recognition and a Voice to Parliament.

Manar Ahmed

Companion House Board Chair

September 2023