Indian and South Asian Australians have come together under the banner of Desis for Yes, a collective aimed at deepening understanding of the indigenous voice to parliament referendum. This initiative seeks to ensure that diaspora communities can make informed decisions when they cast their votes later this year.
Over 150 multicultural community organisations, including several South Asian community groups, have pledged their support for a Yes vote in the Voice referendum.
Dr Shireen Morris, a constitutional lawyer and director of the Radical Centre Reform Lab, commented on the growing goodwill among the South Asian population, stating, “Support will only grow as awareness and understanding of the need for Indigenous constitutional recognition increases. It is fantastic to see so many South Asian Australians stepping up to be part of the campaign.”
This #NAIDOCWeek2023 we are excited to launch ‘Desis For Yes.’
— Desis For Yes (@desisforyes) July 4, 2023
Nishadh Rego, Co-Convenor of Desis for Yes and Co-Chair of the Sydney Alliance, emphasised the significance of this upcoming referendum as Australia’s first in the twenty-first century. Rego highlighted the unique opportunity it presents for South Asian Australians to stand alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in seeking constitutional recognition and having a say on issues that affect them.
He stated, “So many of us in the diaspora are interested in the referendum and inevitably have questions about what it means and what its consequences will be.”
Rego further explained that Desis for Yes aims to enhance awareness and understanding of the referendum within their communities while fostering a connection to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which outlines a pathway towards a fairer and more inclusive future for Indigenous Australians.
Khushaal Vyas, another Co-Convenor of Desis for Yes and a young lawyer expressed the passion of South Asian communities for improving the lives of First Nations communities. He acknowledged that many in the diaspora have not had the opportunity to learn about the history that has led to the barriers faced by Indigenous Australians today.
Vyas stated, “It’s a history South Asians can empathise with, given the impacts of colonialism that are also still felt today in the subcontinent.” Desis for Yes plans to collaborate with other campaign bodies to bridge this knowledge gap and work hand-in-hand with Indigenous Australians towards a brighter future.
The ‘Yes’ campaign asserts that the Voice to Parliament would enable self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by providing opportunities to influence policy and legal decisions that directly impact them.
Despite being the original custodians of the country, First Nations communities are often marginalised and denied their fair share of resources. Despite their resilience in the face of colonisation, they have long been excluded from decision-making processes concerning their lives and lands. The call for a Voice to Parliament arises from the desire to ensure their voices are heard on matters that affect them.
An Ipsos poll reveals that over 80% of Indigenous Australians support constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament, and a majority of non-Indigenous Australians also endorse this proposal. The First Nations people seek practical and simple recognition through a Voice to Parliament, enabling them to have a say in shaping policies and decisions that impact their communities.
As the referendum approaches, Desis for Yes aims to mobilise South Asian and multicultural Australians to join them in supporting the Indigenous voice to parliament referendum, advocating for a major step forward in Australia’s journey towards inclusivity and justice for all its citizens.
READ MORE: Voice referendum : Decoded