Uluru Dialogue Co-Chairs Pat Anderson AO and Professor Megan Davis in Melbourne following a recent in-conversation event related to their book "Voices From The Heart". (Image credit: Ben Fry / The Uluru Dialogue)
Australians wanting to find out more about the upcoming Constitutional Referendum on a First Nations Voice to Parliament and the benefits of a YES result will have no better chance than this.
Anyone from across Australia will be able to log into the latest hour-long “Start A Yarn” information sessions, for which two of the leading campaigners for the Voice, Professor Megan Davis and Pat Anderson AO, will be online to answer any queries people might still have in the final week before the Referendum.
There are four Start A Yarn sessions available between now and Saturday. They will be held daily from October 9-12.
The Start A Yarn online sessions are conducted by The Uluru Dialogue team and are facilitated by Mob23 campaigner Lucy Davis.
The yarning circle concept - upon which the Start A Yarn sessions are based - is used by many First Nations peoples across the world as a space for active listening and reflection.
“The sessions are a chance for people to come together in a safe environment and sit in a circle – virtually,” Lucy Davis said.
“The sessions allow people to ask questions they may not feel comfortable asking in a different arena. There is no such thing as a stupid question; this is about people being given correct information and using that information to make an informed decision when it comes to the referendum.
“The Start A Yarn concept is designed to encourage all Australians to participate. It uses the respectful methodology of a yarning circle; we open the floor – or circle - for people to ask questions.
“We usually get through all of the questions which people want to ask. We encourage anyone and everyone to join in. This is about Australians gaining access to the correct information and then being able to make their own informed decision.
“These sessions are about learning the truth of the story of how we got to a referendum, and then people deciding what their decision will be on referendum day.
“One of the most common questions we hear in these Start A Yarns is, ‘Why don’t all First Nations people agree on the Voice?’
“We’ll likely respond by explaining that the rest of Australia doesn’t always agree on important issues, either. For example, how can it be that we have Pauline Hanson and Anthony Albanese living completely different lifestyles and holding vastly different political positions?
“It’s a massive ask to expect all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to agree on every issue.
“One thing we don’t encourage is pushing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into declaring their public position on how they’re going to vote.
“This referendum is so very important and will affect First Nations people the most. The build-up has so far triggered a whole heap of racism and trauma, so thankfully there’s already enough of us in that area speaking up and declaring our position.
“We encourage people in the yarning circle to not necessarily go to their local elder and ask which way they need to vote – it’s a lot more personal an issue for us than it is for everyone else.
“The other question we find popping up quite a bit is, why doesn’t the Uluru Statement from the Heart call for a treaty first?
“We’re finding more and more that when people understand the process of the Uluru Statement and how we got to the three components of ‘voice, treaty and truth’ they start to understand that it is a sequence which actually comes together in a certain order and isn’t in that order just for the sake of it.
“To our people, you can’t legislate anything without having grassroots conversations, which in the context of this referendum will be a Voice and then treaty will come through legislation.”