South Asians for Voice (SAFV) is a group of individuals from across the country who care about creating a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. We are a grassroots volunteer community group established in 2023 to show active support for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament within the South Asian community. Through our advocacy, we want to share resources with our communities about why it is important to vote YES in the upcoming Referendum.
SAFV is not associated with any political parties and the goal is to help people of South Asian background make an informed choice. We are doing this through our website and social media channels by making multilingual information accessible; utilising our networks to spread messages of support; providing a space for the community to come together, self-initiate and demonstrate support.
Why we think community advocacy is important:
- 1.2 million people of voting age in Australia claim South Asian Ancestry (e.g. Indian, Sri Lankan, Afghan, Pakistani, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Burmese, Bangladeshi). Despite being a large segment of the Australian voting population, engagement on political issues that is tailored towards the South Asian community has been limited.
- Recent research by Western Sydney University demonstrates that Indian and Chinese migrants who are seeking knowledge about First Peoples and their ways of life find it nearly impossible to find. This lack of exposure and knowledge can lead to a higher probability of disengagement and reluctance to “get involved” with political matters concerning First Nations people.
- SAFV aims to provide tailored engagement and encourage a Yes vote in ways that are relatable and accessible to diverse South Asian communities.
In July 2023, SAFV distributed a survey through its networks within the South Asian community in Australia which yielded over a hundred responses. The survey consisted of 15 questions about awareness of the upcoming referendum and issues facing First Nations people, as well as engagement preferences. Alongside this, we also informally spoke to members of our community.
Together, they show that most respondents support the Voice. Some portions of the community demonstrated a robust understanding of Indigenous issues while some were unaware of the Voice altogether due to being time-poor.
There is also a section of the community who support the Voice, but are reluctant to share their view or speak to others for fear of scrutiny or “getting too involved”. We found that shared experiences of colonialism in their countries of origin may help people identify and empathise with the Indigenous experience.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are best placed to advocate for matters impacting their lives, and a Voice to Parliament helps create an advisory group to do that. Our understanding is that the Voice is an important step towards recognition, reconciliation, and respect.
We encourage the South Asian community to show their support for the Voice. Do this by visiting the SAFV website to share a video on why you are voting yes, or make a pledge to do so: https://southasiansforvoice.org
Read More: Voice to Parliament: Is it a YES from you?