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Yamatji leaders meet with Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney to talk Voice to Parliament

Jake Santa Maria and Jamie ThannooGeraldton Guardian
YMAC co-chairs Peter Windie (left) and Natalie Parker (right) with Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney.
Camera IconYMAC co-chairs Peter Windie (left) and Natalie Parker (right) with Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney. Credit: Supplied

Members for the Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (YMAC) were in Canberra last week with the key item on the agenda the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

YMAC co-chair Yamatji region Peter Windie said the YMAC supports the Voice proposal and welcomed Minister Burney’s agreement to meet with them.

“YMAC welcomes the 2023 Voice referendum and is a supporter of the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart. One of the Statement from the Heart’s calls to action was establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament,” he said.

“Minister Burney explained those making up the Voice will be chosen by Aboriginal people, not by government based on the wishes of local communities.”

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Mr Windie said the referendum would be on the agenda for their annual on-country bush meeting at the Yule on July 12-13 and YMAC’s Yamatji on-country meeting in September.

YMAC co-chair Pilbara region, Natalie Parker said a key issue raised with the minister was about getting information out to everyone, particularly in remote communities.

“YMAC highlighted to the minister the diversity of languages of Traditional Owner groups across our regions and Australia,” she said.

YMAC has been talking to the Aboriginal Family Legal Service of Western Australia about developing Indigenous language radio packages to broadcast information about the referendum to more isolated communities, in their first language.

“This is extremely helpful for Aboriginal people, as we are storytellers and use the spoken word to communicate more commonly than written information. It is vitally important details about the Voice are shared in this way,” Ms Parker said.

Mr Windie said the group also relayed other local concerns to the minister.

“We told Minister Burney that amendments to the Land Administration Act needed to establish a policy position where prior and informed consent to ensure the rights and interests of native title holders were adequately protected,” he said.

“With renewable energy projects having potential impacts to country of up to 70 years, it is vital this is done right from the outset so Traditional Owners can also benefit from this process.”

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