Statement on Voice referendum – Dr Marilyn Clarke
Dr Marilyn Clarke (Worimi) FRANZCOG
Chair, RANZCOG Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Health committee
On Saturday October 14, Australia is being given the opportunity to have a crucial say in a historic referendum on an Indigenous Voice to parliament. As the date draws closer, the arguments for the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps are saturating our airwaves and internet, creating confusion for those who are undecided and unsure. Most members of our College are compassionate and caring people who want to “do the right thing”, but aren’t sure what that is. Some have already firmly made up their minds, but may have done so based on misinformation.
RANZCOG acknowledges that we have a diverse membership base and respects the autonomy of individuals to make their own personal decision on this issue. However, as an organisation, we have the moral imperative to support the case, which aligns with our own organisational values of equity, advocacy, kindness and respect (Our Values – RANZCOG). As medical practitioners, we should be aware of the health disparities that exist between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians. Evidence tells us that when First Nations people are involved and have a say in health program design and delivery, outcomes are much more effective. Having an Indigenous Voice to Parliament has the potential to have an enormous impact on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people navigate the future and place in the nation.
If you are unsure, have some questions, or would like more information, I invite you watch a video between myself and esteemed journalist Kerry O’Brien, as we discuss answers to frequently asked questions we often field from the Australian public. I hope that this may help to clarify any doubts, dispel any myths and allay any concerns you may have. Australians have a serious democratic responsibility to vote on an issue which will have a powerful effect on First Nations people for generations, and the onus is on all Australians to ensure they are armed with accurate information when casting their ballot.