The Tenants' Union of New South Wales today declared its support for a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament.
Ensuring all people have a home that nurtures their lives, including connection to community is so important for everybody, but in particular for Aboriginal people who face current and historic barriers to this. The Voice is one part of a long process to rectify these issues and creates opportunity for Aboriginal people to be better heard and recognised in public policy that impacts them.
– Leo Patterson Ross, Tenants' Union CEO
The Tenants’ Union acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and that these lands were possessed under the laws and customs of those Nations. The lands were never ceded and always remain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Country.
The Tenants’ Union acknowledges the present and historical disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the role of government policies, past and present and racism throughout Australia, in creating this disadvantage, and the impact of this disadvantage on tenancy and housing issues.
Government consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on proposed laws and policies relating to housing and other issues that impact them is critical. Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and enabling their voice to be heard on policies and legislation that impact them will help to ‘close the gap’ and to overcome systemic disadvantage.
The Tenants’ Union supports the reforms called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We are inspired by the powerful Makaratta campaign and we actively support Aboriginal people in their struggle for Treaty, Voice and Truth.
The Tenants’ Union supports the establishment of a First Nations Voice as a first step, in a form determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and enshrined in the Constitution.
The Tenants’ Union does not see the Voice to Parliament as an end in itself. Rather we expect from the government, and commit ourselves to, ongoing action for justice for Aboriginal people. At a minimum, we call for implementation of the full recommendations from the Uluru Statement, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and the Bringing Them Home Report. We will continue to work towards Treaty, Land Rights, and Justice.
The Tenants' Union of NSW thanks the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including tenant advocates and our Aboriginal Advisory Committee, for their generosity in sharing their individual perspectives which helped guide the development of our thoughts on this issue.