Written by Kylie Eklund-Denman


With the upcoming referendum in Australia regarding the Voice to Parliament, I have been thinking a lot about voices. Although the polls suggest it is unlikely to pass, I can’t imagine why anyone would vote for someone else’s voice to continue to be unrepresented and unheard. 

Growing up in Australia I heard a few indigenous voices. The history I learned about my country was written by white, Anglo-Saxon men. Aboriginal voices were silent and therefore the 65,000 years of culture were almost invisible to me. The only voices accessible were those from the Dreamtime stories my grandmother used to read me before bed.

I don’t want to make any assumptions, or cultural appropriation in the form of speaking on behalf of someone. But, I do want to hear a much more forceful indigenous voice and perspective, woven through the history books and acknowledged in our parliament and in our understanding. 

On our planet many voices are not heard. So, although I am not indigenous, I am a woman. I am not comparing the experience, merely trying to find a connection. Womens’ voices have been quieted for a long time. Their voices and opinions were fought for through the suffrage movement. Many men thought women should not be represented in politics. I’ve read the argument ‘if you don’t know, vote no,’ was also used during that time by conservative white men not willing to concede women had the right to a point of view.

Women from history, can now joyously be found in historical fiction, voicing their stories, or ‘herstory,’ if you will. Seemingly considered unimportant to the big picture, many of these women had an impact that, up until recently, was ignored. 

The parallels between these unheard voices now echoing through the passages of history and the voices of our indigenous brothers and sisters, which were muted in my Australian History classes, is not lost on me. Why were we not taught the truth of what happened when Australia was colonized? Shame? Ignorance? 

I hope we have access to more history, more stories, and more opinions. The Voice to Parliament would enshrine the speakers right to tell the stories and voice the opinions. I sincerely hope we are ready to listen? If the referendum vote result is a no, we will lose those voices of yet another unheard generation. This would not only be a significant loss to our country and its people, but a travesty of injustice and selective deafness.


Text © Kylie Eklund-Denman


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