The question on whether universities should have a public stance on the Voice became a major point of contention during last week’s Universities Australia Conference, with some saying taking a stance would be a form of indoctrination.

Speaking at the conference last Thursday the shadow education minister Sarah Henderson said that it was “right and proper” that universities hadn’t taken a public stance and that if they did they’d run the risk of molding people into making a decision.

“Parents want education in the classroom, not indoctrination,” Henderson told Sky News after her speech.

The calls go against what University of South Australia’s Vice Chancellor David Lloyd said on Wednesday, saying “Australia cannot afford to squander” the opportunity of the voice.

Echoing Lloyd’s sentiment, University of Melbourne’s professor of Indigenous health Cath Chamberlain says that she believes that the country’s education institutions should take a stance.

“In my view univerities have always played an important way in shaping the way that we think.

And unfortunately, over the past 200 years they’ve played a key role in silencing and excluding the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People,” she said.

Chamberlain continued that the silencing of Indigenous knowledge was akin to the medieval dark age and supporting the voice as well as having Indigenous perspectives on university boards could play a role in rectifying that.

“I think it is high time for enlightenment, an Indigenous renaissance in Australia and I hope that all universities can get excited about this,” she said.

Listen to the interview with Professor Cath Chamberlain:

Image Credit: Donald Tong