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City wants “respectful” debate on Voice

July 17, 2023 7:27 am in by

voice geelong councilGeelong council is hosting a series of community sessions about the upcoming national referendum to enshrine an Aboriginal Voice to Parliament in the constitution.

It will be the city’s first formal entry into public discussion around the vote that’s due later in the year and council is calling for civil debate as it does so.

“[It’s] going to be very interesting to see the maturity of the Geelong community, if they can can participate in a respectful manner,” Deputy Mayor Anthony Aitken said.

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“It is a new space for the council to get involved in.”

The conversations are to be facilitated by the council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Senior Policy Officer Julie Saylor Briggs, along with other staff from the local government.

Though the city is yet to take a formal position on the referendum, it’s supportive of calls for a First Nations voice to be enshrined in the nations charter and recently reaffirmed its commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart where the voice is proposed.

Cr Aitken says it’s not up to the city to push people towards voting yes or no, but they do want people to make an informed choice.

“What does the voice mean? And why have our First Nations people said they actually do not to have recognition in our constitution?” he said.

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“We’re optimistic and believe that it is a conversation that’s worth having, and we would like to facilitate that conversation.”

The city is hosting a series of community conversations over the next three months at its Wurriki Nyal headquarters, the region’s libraries and will also be holding informal pop-up kiosks on Geelong streets in coming weeks.

Image: Geelong Council is hosting a series of community forums about the upcoming Voice to Parliament referendum (City of Greater Geelong).

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