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Complexity of Debate Respectful and Informed Dialogue Resources and Information

Complexity of Debate

The ACU community should be culturally responsive and culturally sensitive to both the diverse perspectives on The Voice and First Nations staff, students and wider First Nations communities.

Cultural respect and safety are essential especially at this time as First Nations staff, students and communities are directly impacted by discussions and the outcomes of the Referendum.

First Nations peoples have the right to be respected for their own beliefs and values. First Nations peoples should not be constantly confronted with the views of other people regarding how they should think, act and vote. Importantly, we must ensure we are not making assumptions regarding First Nations staff, students and communities’ positions and perspectives.

There are multiple and diverse perspectives relating to the debate and dialogue surrounding the Voice. It is important to understand that there are not simply two perspectives (Yes and No) in response to the Referendum.

The University is committed to creating culturally safe spaces where First Nations staff and students can share their perspectives. Given the diverse perspectives and extensive debate on this issue, ACU encourages staff to learn more via the information and resources on this webpage.

ACU supports the discussions and decisions of First Nations communities and out of respect to these diverse perspectives, ACU will not take a position on the Voice. First Nations peoples and voices are at the core of and beyond the discussions and vote regarding the Referendum.

Respectful and Informed Dialogue with Colleagues, Students, and Communities

ACU would like to encourage informed and respectful dialogue about the Voice where appropriate. Staff might like to discuss the referendum with colleagues and students if they feel comfortable. Students and staff should be encouraged to continue to explore resources and listen to First Nations voices to assist them to form their own opinions and perspectives.

Staff can communicate their personal perspectives, however it must be clear that this is their view only and the conversation should remain respectful throughout. Additionally, staff should take the time to review and explore a broad range of information from diverse sources, especially First Nations sources. As with any political issue, disinformation and misinformation can be harmful.

A helpful Conversation article titled ‘How to have informed and respectful conversations about Indigenous issues like the Voice’ by Macdonald, Hill, Gringart, Somerville and Boothe can be found here.

Consider the following when discussing, engaging, or responding to discussions about the Voice:

  • The safety of First Nations staff, students and communities is of vital importance. First Nations peoples have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Be aware that First Nations staff and students may not be willing to discuss the Voice and are not obliged to discuss or to explain their views.
  • Moreover, First Nations staff and students are not obliged to be the individuals or peoples to inform or educate their colleagues and peers.
  • Non-First Nations staff and students may want to engage in conversation about the Voice, however it is important to be culturally responsive and aware of the additional cultural load or expectations First Nations peoples may be managing.

  • The context of the discussion – for example, is the class or unit discussing legislation and public policy? In this case, discussion on the Voice referendum may be relevant and useful for learning.
  • Have you considered the cultural safety of First Nations students and staff present or not present within the discussion?
  • Identify resources and supports for developing your cultural capacity to create culturally safe learning and teaching spaces.
  • Reflect on how informed you are about the current Referendum. Consider further reading and research to better support your responses to students.

    If you are asked about the referendum and would prefer to direct students or colleagues to a resource, refer them back to this staff resource or the Student Portal resource.

    Here they will find:

  • Voice to Parliament background resources
  • A recording of the ACU Voice Referendum Panel Discussion held in May 2023
  • Any scheduled upcoming events
  • Additional resources
  • Contact details for support services

    Voice to Parliament Resources

    The Supporting First Nations Students during the Referendum webinar was a shared initiative between the Indigenous Higher Education Unit and the First Peoples Directorate (Centre for Education and Innovation). We heard from our expert staff about ways to engage thoughtfully with the referendum topic and how best to support our First Nations students during this period.

    ACU Voice Referendum Panel Discussion
    Navigating the Voice debate with Luke Pearson
    Tom Calma on the Indigenous Voice to parliament
    An evening with Stan Grant Jr
    'Not begging anymore': Pat Anderson on why an Indigenous voice must speak to the executive
    Black Matters
    Why Megan Davis remains optimistic about a Voice to Parliament
    Uluru Statement from the Heart
    Voices of Power | AIATSIS
    The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice: A Dialogue for Students | ANU
    Enrol to vote – Australian Electoral Commission
    Check your enrolment – Australian Electoral Commission
    Update your enrolment details – Australian Electoral Commission
    ACU Student Counselling
    ACU 24-hour Mental Health Support Line: Phone - 1300 638 485 / Text - 0488 884 191.
    13YARN - Support line for mob who are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping. Phone - 13 92 76
    Lifeline - Confidential crisis support and suicide prevention services. Phone - 13 11 14
    headspace - National Youth Mental Health Service. headspace has centres for face-to-face services, or you can contact their online and telephone support service, eheadspace or 1800 650 890.
    Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Social and Emotional Well-being, Mental Health, and Suicide Prevention 
    Beyond Blue - information on how to take care of yourself and manage your mental health and wellbeing.

    If you have any questions, please contact CEI@acu.edu.au.

    Page last updated on 24/01/2024

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