ECAJ Media Statement: The Voice Referendum

September 5th, 2023

To download this statement in PDF format, please click here.

Elected Councillors of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the peak representative body of the Australian Jewish community, have voted overwhelmingly to support a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum to decide whether to alter the Australian Constitution to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to make representations to Parliament and the Executive Government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“The ECAJ was one of the first groups to support the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart in which Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples called for constitutional recognition of their status as Australia’s First Nations and for a constitutionally guaranteed First Nations Voice”, said ECAJ President, Jillian Segal.

“There is a clear moral imperative for constitutional recognition of Australia’s First Nations”, Ms Segal said. “We recognise that there is a range of views in the Jewish community, as in the wider community, about the merits and effectiveness of a Voice. People have also expressed different expectations about the scope of matters in relation to which the Voice may make representations, and the way it will operate and be constituted, but these details will be decided by the parliament, and will thus be amenable to legislative change in the future, if necessary.”

“With respect for all differing opinions, ECAJ Councillors have nevertheless voted to support the referendum to amend the Constitution as an historic step towards justice and reconciliation.”

Ms Segal noted the debate about the Voice has transcended political and cultural divides. “Many multicultural and faith communities which usually align with different sides of the political spectrum have united to support a clear majority, even though not all, of Australia’s First Nations people, in backing the referendum”, Ms Segal said.

She also referred to “intemperate and inaccurate statements made by some of the parties supporting each of the referendum Yes and No cases, which have created discord and unnecessary division within Australian society”.

“We have called on all participants in the referendum campaign to conduct the debate on this historic issue in a fair, informed and dignified manner, as befits our great democracy.”

Peter Wertheim AM | Co-CEO
ph: 02 8353 8505 | m: 0408 160 904 | fax: 02 9361 5888
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