ACRATH Supports The Voice

The Voice Image

ACRATH is proud to support the proposal for a First Nations Voice to be enshrined in the Constitution. As the Uluru Statement from the Heart tells us, we need to ensure that First Nations people have a real say in decisions that affect them.

ACRATH took this stand after hearing at our ACRATH 2021 conference presentations on indigenous Australians’ experience of slavery, slavery-like practices and stolen wages; we wanted to respond to the calls for action by the indigenous leaders who shared their insights at our conference. We in ACRATH felt supporting the YES campaign for a Voice was a small step we could take.

For most of its almost 20-year history ACRATH has sought to respect the history and will of First Nations people. In the ‘early days’ of ACRATH, reading an acknowledgement of country was introduced before each gathering or meeting began. It read ….

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on, acknowledge our gratitude that we share this land today, our sorrow for the costs of that sharing, and our hope that we can move to a place of justice and partnership together.

Tim Muirhead, from Walyalup (Fremantle, WA) wrote this acknowledgment. “This is what I want to say when I acknowledge country. If others want to say it too, then it comes from them,” Tim said. “I always feel that acknowledgement should come from the heart of the person saying it, so they should choose the words, rather than sticking to a ‘script’.”

ACRATH Vice President Annette Arnold rsj, at ACRATH’s recent national gathering said in her acknowledgement…

“We support the Uluru Statement from the Heart to achieve justice, recognition and respect for First Nations people and a referendum to enshrine a First Nations Voice in the Constitution.”

“We accept the invitation contained in the Statement to walk together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”

Catholic priest Frank Brennan sj is urging people to engage with the process, find out more and ‘put some skin in the game’, do something.

ACRATH is proud to stand in solidarity with First Nations people and will continue to work for a future in which their voices are heard.

“We encourage other workplaces to take a stand and do small things to spread the word. We have recently changed out signature panels, after seeking advice from First Nations colleagues. We encourage others to do the same,” said Christine Carolan, ACRATH’s executive officer.

There are many resources available to find out more, but we invite you to listen to an ACRATH Conversation from May 2022 where Sherry Balcombe, from Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, gave her detailed personal experience and stories of Aboriginal people who have worked without pay and their fight for compensation.

You can see the ACRATH statement of support on the website “One Journey, Together”, launched by The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council on the 6th of June here.