MEDIA RELEASE – Real commitment needed to remedy the impacts of the Voice Referendum
18/12/2023 – MEDIA RELEASE
Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia is calling for the Australian Government to make an immediate and genuine commitment to address the impacts of the Voice Referendum on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – particularly children, youth, and elders.
Gayaa Dhuwi is the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, and suicide prevention.
“There are two particularly impacted groups that need immediate support and assistance”, said Ms Rachel Fishlock, Chief Executive Officer of Gayaa Dhuwi. “The first is our young people who were offered a voice for the first time in their lives, spoke up, and were rejected by the majority of Australia.
“The second group is our young people who weren’t old enough to vote and didn’t get to have a say – despite the results of the referendum significantly impacting their futures”, Ms Fishlock said.
Gayaa Dhuwi has developed a proposal for the Commonwealth Government to deliver a range of forums for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, to help them work through the impacts of the referendum and highlight locally available social and emotional wellbeing and mental health supports.
The call for resourcing to support the social and emotional wellbeing and mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – particularly young people – comes as the government considers its financial position and next budget.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership is critical to ensure that the perspectives and voices of our young people are prominent and central in their social and emotional wellbeing”, said Ms Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia.
“We know that activating and empowering our young leaders, improves confidence in self and culture, to their wellbeing, and to that of the broader community”, Ms Murray said.
“We welcome the government’s commitment to improving access to mental health and suicide prevention services – including extension of funding to 13YARN. However, we need immediate funding to help our young people. This can’t wait”, said Ms Fishlock.
“We are very concerned about the impact of the referendum on the mental health and social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationwide. The impacts will be felt across the life course”, said Professor Helen Milroy, Gayaa Dhuwi Chairperson.
Media contact: Clare Butterfield, Director of Communications, email@example.com or 0450 095 822
Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia is the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, and suicide prevention. Our vision is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, excellence, and presence across all parts of the Australian mental health system, and the achievement of the highest attainable standard of social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, and suicide prevention outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.