Monday 9 October 2023 – for immediate release
We, Victoria’s Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People and Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People, will be voting ‘Yes’ at the forthcoming referendum to support Constitutional change recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and creating an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
We will be voting ‘Yes’ in light of the compelling benefits for First Nations children and young people, and in acknowledgment of the power of the voices of children and young people to address the issues they face in Australia today.
Our work as commissioners is very much guided by Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that where a child can form their own views, they should have the right to be heard in all matters that impact on them.
At the Commission, we provide advice on the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, and promote their interests. We cannot, and will not, do this work without hearing the voices of children and young people.
The Voice to Parliament is an opportunity to be heard. An opportunity to listen. And an opportunity to do better.
The Voice is an opportunity from which we will not turn away.
From Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, Meena Singh
I am a Yorta Yorta and Indian woman. Since starting as Victoria’s third Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People in April 2022, I have had the privilege to travel around the state to hear the stories and experiences of Aboriginal children and young people. The things they like and dislike. What they’d like to see change in their lives, and what they want more of, their dreams for their future.
Listening is one of the most powerful tools we have as individuals, that I have as a commissioner. In listening to their stories, I learn far more from them than they do from me. I share their stories and voices in places that they are not usually heard, from meetings with Ministers and Secretaries in government, to hearings like the Yoorrook Justice Commission. This is to make sure their voices are heard in the decisions made about them.
The Voice is about ensuring a group of people who are rarely heard, but often talked about, are always part of the discussion.
From Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People, Liana Buchanan
I will be voting ‘Yes’ to the Voice to Parliament having already seen the benefits of placing the voices of children and young people at the heart of our work, and the impact that comes when governments receive direct advice from First Peoples’ perspective as has occurred through successive Commissioners for Aboriginal Children and Young People in Victoria.
In my role I see the incredible creativity, strength, skill and vibrance of First Nations children and young people. I also see the continued legacy of colonisation and its devastating impact on too many First Nations children. I have seen that the status quo is not serving these children’s needs or interests. The Voice to Parliament, and the prospect of ongoing advice from First Peoples on issues that affect them, can only help to bring about positive and much-needed change.
Meena Singh, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (Victoria)
Liana Buchanan, Principal Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (Victoria)
0437 046 360