The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria is leading the nation with huge progress around Voice, Treaty and Truth. With the referendum for a national Voice fast approaching, Assembly Member Djaran Murray-Jackson shares what this moment means to him.
Earlier this year the First Peoples Assembly of Victoria held elections for mob across the state to decide who would negotiate a statewide Treaty. In many ways, the Assembly is essentially the democratically elected First Peoples ‘Voice’ in Victoria.
I was fortunate enough to be elected by my Community to representing the Dja Dja Wurrung Nation. I am a proud Dja Dja Wurrung, Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa, Waywurru, Barapa Barapa, Wergaia and Wiradjuri man. I have deep and ancient connections to this Country , and I take my responsibility in enabling my people seriously.
The Assembly supports all the elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart – Voice, Treaty and Truth. This is to ensure our people and our Country are cared for by us, the Traditional Custodians of this land.
We are getting on with all three elements in Victoria. We have a Voice through our Assembly. I’m one of 32 elected Members. There is Australia’s first formal Truth-telling commission in the Yoorrook Truth Commission and the Assembly will begin Treaty negotiations with the Government early next year.
Now, we’re also being asked a lot about the national debate for a Voice to Parliament that has popped up. I’ll be voting YES to the Voice. Our Assembly has also endorsed the YES vote.
When you listen to Aboriginal people about Aboriginal issues, you get better outcomes. I see voting YES as a step towards self-determination for my people. We know that if you make decisions about us, whether it be about our children, our trees, or our rivers, you get better outcomes when we’re involved.
For a long time we’ve had governments thinking they know better and telling us how to live our lives and control our Country. That hasn’t worked for 230 years.
We’ve had fires ravage our lands, Governments destroy our scared trees and mining companies erase our history. A Voice would simply mean we get a say and can hopefully influence those kinds of decisions. It would also be part of recognising that we are the First Peoples of this country.
If the referendum fails it would be upsetting. But make no mistake, a NO vote will also delay progress and tangible action on protecting our people and our lands. For many it will feel insulting, but I believe goodwill from the broader public is out there, it’s just all getting mixed up with misinformation and arguing. But we know how to wait, and how to keep trying.
My Great Grandfather, Pastor and Aboriginal activist, Sir Doug Nicholls, liked to say to get a tune out of a piano, you can play the black notes or you can play the white notes. But to get harmony, you’ve got to play both.
With the referendum coming up, I’ve had lots of friends reaching out to me and wanting to learn more about my culture and my Country. This is great.
I’d love people to research who the Traditional Owners of the Country they’re on and the history of the area. Have a conversation with a First Nations person before you vote in the Referendum, that way you’ll better understand who and what you’re voting for.
Djaran Murray-Jackson, 29, is a proud Dja Dja Wurrung, Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa, Waywurru, Barapa Barapa, Wergaia and Wiradjuri man. Djaran was born in Naarm (Melbourne) and lives in Naarm’s north. In mid-2023, Djaran was chosen to represent the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans on the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.
He will be speaking at our webinar ‘The Environment Movement and the Voice’ on 27 September. RSVP to come along here >>
There are plenty of ways you can get involved to help build support for YES, now and beyond the referendum. We’re getting active in our communities, making support for YES visible in our streets and towns and having powerful conversations about what First Nations justice means now, and beyond the referendum. Find out how you can join in below.
Together with our friends at the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), we’re hosting online calling parties every Tuesday and Thursday – all the way to the referendum date on October 14. Join us to have powerful conversations about the Voice referendum, and help build support for a YES vote!
We know that conversations are the tipping point for winning referendums. Marriage equality was won with millions of conversations across the country — and that’s what we must do now. You’ll get all the support and resources you need to have impactful conversations, including a conversation guide and space to ask tricky questions.
Want to know more about the Voice and how it relates to environment and climate justice? Join our webinar on September 27 to hear from a brilliant panel of First Nations leaders about what this moment means to them. It will be a space to listen, ask questions and learn about some of the incredible work already happening around First Nations justice – things like progressing Treaty in Victoria, protecting Country and standing up against big fossil fuel expansion
Research shows many people don’t make up their mind until they cast their vote on referendum day. You can help give undecided voters the information they need to cast their vote as this crucial moment for First Nations Justice, by manning a polling booth.
Yes23 have a huge list of events happening across the country to build support for a YES vote, including a big mobilisation day on Sunday September 17.