In just over three weeks Australia will vote in its first referendum in over 20 years.
Antoinette Braybrook AM is the CEO of Djirra and has been spreading the word in favour of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, most recently joining AFL legend Michael Long on his Long Walk from Melbourne to Canberra and telling anyone who will listen about the importance of voting ‘Yes’ in the referendum.
Because, as Ms Braybrook says she doesn’t want to wake up the day after the referendum feeling like she didn’t do enough.
“As Aboriginal people, it’s about our life … I want my mum to see change, I want my nieces and nephews to have a better future,” Ms Braybrook told NIRS News.
That’s why Djirra, a culturally safe family violence and support service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their families, is inviting community members to get informed before heading to the polls on October 14.
The respected Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisation is hosting an all-day community information session on the Voice Referendum this Thursday [September 21] at its newest premises ‘Djirra in the West’ in Melton, just outside Melbourne.
The Kuku Yalanji woman will be speaking at the free event alongside her brother and fellow longtime Melton resident, Shaun Braybrook ACM, as well other prominent Aboriginal speakers and advocates, including Dr Jackie Huggins AM, Nova Peris OAM, Kara Keys [Deputy Director, Yes23] and Jill Gallagher AO [VACCHO CEO].
While attendees must register for the 11am and 6pm panels, as well as the online option for those who cannot attend in person, at trybooking.com/events/landing/1106818 or via the Djirra website, everyone is encouraged to pop in and have a yarn with who’s ever around between 10am and 6pm.
Ms Braybrook believes a constitutionally enshrined body of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would support the important work Djirra does assisting mob in the community.
“I have been the CEO of Djirra for now, just over 20 years and in my time, I have only seen the situation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women worsen, with respect to family violence, child removal, and incarceration rates.
“I’ve never seen the numbers go down, and I think having a successful referendum will ensure that our people are at the table feeding into the policies and decisions that impact on our lives and bringing the unique and diverse experiences and solutions to the table.”
Ms Braybrook who became the first Aboriginal woman to receive Melburnian of the Year in 2022, for her commitment to ending family violence against First Nations women, warned there will be consequences if the referendum fails.
“The status quo will only get worse, and I know the racism will certainly increase, the message will be that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives do not matter.
“But if it succeeds, that’s a step in the right direction, to shift this narrative for our people and move us away from a deficit lens. It’s an invitation for other Australians to walk with us, come together, and hear us.”