A referendum to enshrine a Voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution will now be put to the Australian people 14th October, 2023.
The Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF) is a leading community-based philanthropic organisation based on the lands of the Bundjalung, Gumbaynggirr and Yaegl peoples in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. Our vision and purpose are of a compassionate, generous and equitable Northern Rivers community.
We are guided by our core value of community-led change – the building of authentic partnerships with grassroots groups, community networks and philanthropists seeking to support positive change and build social equity into the future. At the heart of NRCF’s work is connecting people who care with causes that matter. We help build healthy and resilient communities in the Northern Rivers by supporting local not-for-profit organisations to tackle challenging social and environmental problems and pursue positive change.
As part of our Community Foundation role, we embrace learning and aim to reflect the voice of our communities to help build better solutions. In line with this we have committed to deepening our relationships, work and support of First Nations communities, who continue to generously share their knowledge and culture. In 2022, we accepted the invitation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, following more than a decade of grassroots national engagement and consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, to walk alongside them in their quest for Constitutional recognition, and a process of truth-telling, Treaty, and healing.
We understand the large majority of First Nations people support a YES vote in the forthcoming referendum.
• We reaffirm our acceptance of the generous invitation extended by First Nations people in the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk together towards a better future.
• We express our support for the YES case in the referendum.
We recognise that the referendum to enshrine a Voice can be a complicated issue with different views, including within First Nations communities. We appreciate that some First Nations people feel that the Voice does not go far enough or is not the optimal way to progress empowerment and recognition of Australian First Nations. We also appreciate that members of the NRCF family may have different views and not support the Voice referendum.
Of course, it will be individual Australians, from all backgrounds and walks of life, who vote in the referendum and we respect their right to vote with integrity and values as they best see fit.
In the months leading up to the referendum vote, NRCF encourages reflection on our national circumstances; how we got to where we are today with the challenges facing First Nations communities; and most importantly, to listen to what First Nations people are asking for and offering.
And above all, we hope our communities continue the conversation with respect for others’ opinions and with the generosity of spirit and compassion for which this beautiful Northern Rivers region of Bundjalung country is known.