Well-known Indian-Australian writer, poet and essayist Subhash Jaireth, along with Merlinda Bobis and Hanna Jaireth, has started a petition entitled “We say ‘Yes’ to the Voice!” to lend support to The Voice referendum.
Through this referendum, Australians will have their say to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution through an Indigenous Voice.
Mr Jaireth, who was born in Punjab, migrated to Australia in 1986 and has published poetry in Hindi, English, and Russian. He has also published English translations of Russian, Japanese, and Persian poetry, and has translated poems of Indigenous Australian poets into Hindi.
His published works include Yashodhara: Six Seasons Without You (Wild Peony, 2003), Unfinished Poems for Your Violin (Penguin Australia, 1996), Golee Lagne Se Pahle (Before the Bullet Hit Me) (Vani Prakashan, 1994), To Silence: Three Autobiographies (Puncher& Wattmann, 2011), After Love (Transit Lounge, 2012), Moments (Puncher & Wattmann, 2014) and Incantations (Recent Work Press, 2016).
Mr Jaireth says Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP), PEN Melbourne, and Freilich Project at the Australian National University (ANU) have also supported this petition by either circulating or putting a link to the change.org campaign on their respective websites.
“The Voice will pave the way for reforms that will address the impact of colonisation on the lives of the First Nations Peoples of Australia and restore their ‘rightful place in [their] own country.’”
According to the federal government, the Voice will provide a permanent and practical way for Indigenous communities to advise the Australian Parliament and Government on matters that affect them.
In 2017, the National Constitution Convention of the first sovereign nations of the Australian continent offered the Australian People the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
The Uluru Statement calls “for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution” and also declares that their sovereignty, a spiritual notion for the First Nations Peoples, “has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.”
Mr Jaireth says that they welcome the Statement’s call for a First Nations Voice and its invitation to walk with the First Nations Peoples in a movement for “justice and self-determination.”
“By lending our support to the Voice in the upcoming Constitutional Referendum, we will take the most significant step in our journey together towards ‘a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.’”
Further, Mr Jaireth believes that it is understandable that the Constitutional Referendum will be about the fundamental principles that underpin the Voice: “the Constitutional recognition of the First Nations Peoples and the Australian Government’s active engagement with them in designing and implementing the policies that affect their lives.”
“We understand that the proposed Constitutional Referendum has resulted from a lengthy process of public consultation and scrutiny, which began in 2010 and includes ten reports on constitutional recognition.”
The Referendum Working Group and the Constitutional Expert Group will provide advice that will help enshrine the Voice in the Constitution and will not bestow special rights on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Mr Jaireth feels:
“The primary objective of this referendum is to give the First Nations an opportunity to speak and be heard in the decision-making processes about their lives, homes and future as First Nations Peoples of this land.”
Mr Jaireth urges fellow Australians from every ethnic and cultural background, to support the Voice.
“This is our chance to accept the gift offered by the First Nations Peoples to become part of their history which began more than 60,000 years ago.”
Till now, more than 113,000 visitors have viewed Mr Jaireth’s petition and 10,794 have shown their support by signing it.