A proud Indigenous activist has revealed he plans to vote ‘no’ in the upcoming Voice referendum because the concept was ‘not born of black ambition’.
Just a month after the historic referendum, support for the Yes vote has plummeted as polls suggest the majority of Australians plan to reject the proposed constitutional change.
Ben Abbatangelo, a proud Gunaikurnai and Wotjobaluk man, former professional cricketer and writer, was originally in favor of the move. But now he says he’s a resounding no.
“It didn’t arise from Black ambition … it arose from what was acceptable to constitutional conservatives,” he said ABC’s Four Corners.
“The idea that the people who stole this land and then profited directly from it are now going to a referendum to consider recognizing the people they stole it from is crazy.”
Ben Abbatangelo, a proud Gunaikurnai and Wotjobaluk player and former Melbourne Stars cricketer, says: “Slow incremental change is killing us.” Pictured: Brooke Boney, who plans to vote yes, with Mr Abbatangelo, who plans to vote no
The proud Indigenous activist (pictured) has revealed he plans to vote ‘no’ in the upcoming Voice referendum because the concept was ‘not born of black ambition’.
The referendum, due to take place on October 14, aims to enshrine First Nation people in the constitution and establish a committee called Voice to Parliament that will advise the government on issues affecting Indigenous Australians.
Mr Abbatangelo rejects the idea that the advisory body would be a positive step for the indigenous community.
“It’s not and we don’t have time.” “This slow, incremental change is killing us,” he said.
“I don’t want to take a small step, in the quicksand, with our feet tied together, I want to lift us out.”
“I want to dream and remember what it is like to live freely, autonomously and independently, while maintaining my dignity.”
Opposition to the vote, represented by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, is also spreading in remote indigenous communities.
Jason Ford, who runs a small business and drives a school bus in Murdi Paaki in Brewarrina in outback New South Wales, said that while he wanted to vote yes, he would vote no.
Jason Ford says his church’s elders asked the congregation to vote NO
Opposition to the policies advocated by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is also spreading in remote indigenous communities
“I was told by my eldest to vote no,” he explains.
“Once my eldest tells me something, I still have to respect what he says.” I don’t ask any questions about it.
“I’ll feel for them if it doesn’t stand up, and I’ll be happy for them if it does stand up… because I respect what they did.”
“I just hope it doesn’t negatively change the way people treat us. “I hope it’s a positive outcome in any case.”
But not everyone is so pessimistic about what a successful yes vote could mean for Australia.
June Oscar, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner from Fitzroy Crossing in WA, plans to vote yes. She calls it a “great opportunity…to do things right.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar says she wants to vote yes because it is an issue “this generation should be dealing with now”
She has campaigned for the safety of women and children for decades and hopes a successful yes vote will give her people more of a say in what happens in Canberra.
“We live these issues and are influenced by them every day…child protection, juvenile detention, housing…it no longer makes sense for others to make these decisions without us,” she says.
“I would like to think that we can deal with this now in our generation and not leave it to our children and grandchildren to struggle with it.”
Many non-Indigenous Australians are also divided over how to vote.
Anne Vanderberg and Alan Coates accept changes need to be made to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians, but are unsure whether voting yes is the right move.
Anne Vanderberg and Alan Coates are confused by the bad news on the Voice
“I think it’s important, but I don’t know what the right thing is,” Ms. Vanderberg said.
“I feel ignorant. I have no idea how to vote as there doesn’t seem to be much detail.
“I hear from indigenous groups who are really in favor of it, others who are strongly against it, um, and I just don’t know. “I don’t know what I’m going to vote for because I don’t feel like I have enough information.”
Mr Coates fears that regardless of the referendum result, it will feel like Australia has become more “divisive”.
“It’s not about bringing people together, it’s about driving a wedge.” [between us].’