Desis for Yes is a collective of South Asian Australian volunteers co-founded three months ago by us, Nishadh Rego and Khushaal Vyas.
Regardless of where we have come from or when, we live, work, study, pray, and raise families on land that was taken from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over the last 200 years. We have benefitted from this dispossession and have an obligation to walk together with Indigenous Australians towards a bright and more reconciled future.
We also have a unique, once-in-a-generation opportunity to change this nation’s Constitution for the better, and in doing so, walk together with Indigenous Australians towards a better, more reconciled future. Desi for Yes
We were not going to let this opportunity go abegging. So, in the last 90 days, we have developed a three-pronged campaign to deepen engagement and understanding of the referendum and the Uluru Statement from the Heart across our diaspora communities.
Why we should vote Yes
- This is first and foremost about listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have been the custodians of these lands for more than 65,000 years. The Uluru Statement from the Heart, which sprang out of one of the most extensive, deliberative democratic processes amongst Indigenous Australians, calls for the establishment of a First Nations Voice in the Constitution. This call is backed up by consistent polling which says that more than 80% of Aboriginal and Torres islanders support the Voice.
- This is about giving Indigenous Australians a permanent say on the issues that affect their lives. When we give Indigenous Australians a say, we will have more targeted, effective laws and policies that better serve their needs in healthcare, education, employment and more. Desi for Yes
- This is about remembering that our communities also experienced colonialism and suffering that came with it. We won our independence in 1947 and had the opportunity to write our own Constitution. Conversely, First Nations Australians have been excluded from Australia’s Constitution to this day.
Our social media campaign, including our legendary ‘Chai Chats’ segment, has reached 15,000 people and had 100,000 impressions, helping simplify a complex debate with humor and facts. Desi for Yes
Through more than 20 engagements with diaspora and mainstream media, including the ABC, SBS, and the Daily Telegraph, we have highlighted the fact that South Asian diasporas care about this issue, are part of the conversation, and are stepping up in solidarity with First Nations Australians.
By the referendum date, we will have run or participated in 25 conversations and public events, attended by over a thousand community members, providing safe and comfortable spaces to ask the difficult questions, share concerns, and listen.
Whatever the result on 14th October – and we hope it is a Yes – this whole experience has helped connect and unify migrant and diaspora communities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. And this new consciousness is here to stay.
Read More: It’s a YES from us