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Indigenous leaders plan next steps on road to a Voice in the Constitution

Albanese Indigenous Voice
Buoyed by Anthony Albanese's endorsement of a Voice to parliament, Indigenous activists are planning their next moves Photo: AAP Photo: AAP
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A day after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s historic Voice to parliament speech at the Garma Festival, Indigenous leaders are planning their next moves in their push for reconciliation.

Indigenous Australians and Uluru Statement campaigners must come together to create a clear strategy for moving forward, Uphold and Recognise chair Sean Gordon told the festival in Arnhem Land on Sunday.

They also need to consult same-sex marriage and republican campaigners for advice about collaboration and raising awareness and funds ahead of a referendum on a Voice.

“It needs to be a clear, co-ordinated strategy and a way forward otherwise we won’t have the success that we would like to think we’re going to have,” he told a forum on the third day of the festival in the Northern Territory.

Mr Gordon estimated the yes campaign would need about $20 million, saying much of that would need to come from non-Indigenous Australians, who make up 97 per cent of the population.

“We now have to do that as Indigenous people and if we can’t, this thing’s dead in the water,” he said.

Warren Mundine’s reservations

Former Liberal candidate and ALP national president Warren Mundine said a strong narrative was need to bring people along on the journey.

He lauded the prime minister’s speech, saying “you could not argue with some of the words”, but also warned that not all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders supported the Voice plan.

“I want something where the countrymen have their voice. I’m not convinced about (Mr Albanese’s recommendations). We could do this with legislation. Why do we need to have it in the Constitution?” he said.

Mr Mundine also pleaded for the coming debate not to “descend to the margins where you’ve got people abusing people”.

“You don’t want to bully people from either side. It’s about a conversation otherwise it defeats the purpose … in regards to a Voice to parliament,” he said.

Garma is a four-day gathering to celebrate the Yolngu people’s cultural and ceremonial traditions, drawing about 2000 guests.

It has also provided a platform Mr Albanese to deliver his historic speech outlining the government’s suggestion for a Voice referendum question and three sentences to be added to the Constitution to recognise Indigenous Australians.

He left the gathering late on Saturday, but behind the scenes Uluru Statement activists are already in talks with corporate guests about funding for the coming campaign to make a referendum a reality and convince Australian to vote yes.

The festival forum on Sunday will also discuss the high rates of illness in Indigenous communities and health programs in remote areas, along with the criminal justice system.

-AAP