Aboriginal elder Aunty Cheryl Drayton to vote No in Indigenous Voice to Parliament

An Indigenous elder is telling her community to vote No on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament because she doesn’t ‘trust the government in any way shape or form’.

Kurnai elder Aunty Cheryl Drayton, who lives in the Gippsland region, in south-east Victoria, said there wasn’t enough detail on how the proposed body would help Indigenous people.

‘While there’s no meat on the bone of how this is going to work, I can’t see how any normal person with a brain could vote for it,’ long-time Indigenous student support worker Aunty Cheryl told The Age.

‘It doesn’t tell them how people are going to get elected [on to the Voice]. 

‘The government has thrown a lot of money at this and it could have been spent developing communities’ aspirations.’ 

Aunty Cheryl, 71, outlined her views in more detail during a conversation with Liberal MP Russell Broadbent, who represents the seat of Monash, in July.

Kurnai elder Aunty Cheryl Drayton (pictured right) says that the Voice is not going to make any practical difference to Indigenous people

‘The main thing about The Voice is we haven’t authorised those people to act on our behalf,’ she told Mr Broadbent.

‘The reality of that is an elite of people who think that having us in the Constitution is going to be the right thing and they have not been to explain how that is going to make any difference to grassroots people.

‘The Voice won’t make any difference. There won’t be any collaboration through the grassroots people it will be a top down measure that will descend.

‘It will dismantle a lot of the goodwill that has been made at the grassroots level.’ 

She said many Aboriginal people weren’t enrolled to vote so would even be excluded from the referendum.

Some 40,000 Indigenous Australians are expected to miss out on the referendum. 

Aunty Cheryl said a better approach would be to look at how funds are being used on Indigenous outcomes and concentrating them on doing things at a grassroots level.

‘We must look at the amount of money that has been spent on all the Aboriginal areas because there is no outcomes,’ she said.

‘The data still tells us we have higher incarceration rates, we have poor health outcomes our kids aren’t getting taught literacy or numeracy, it isn’t improving.’

Mr Broadbent said Aunty Cheryl’s views had changed his mind on the Voice, which previously he said he strongly supported.

He had told some of his colleagues in Canberra that the most senior Elder in his region was opposed but said some of them weren’t too interested in hearing that. 

The Albanese government and other Voice advocates often cite a YouGov poll that showed 83 percent of Indigenous people support the Voice

The Albanese government and other Voice advocates often cite a YouGov poll that showed 83 percent of Indigenous people support the Voice

Aunty Cheryl’s comments echo those from the other end of the continent with elders in far north Queensland voicing their concerns over the Voice last month. 

Dr Fiona Wirrer-George, a traditional owner in Napranum south of Weipa, believes the Voice narrative needs to be restructured to appeal to remote communities.

‘A different kind of narrative preoccupies the mindset of Western Cape mob,’ she told Cairns Post.

‘I don’t think it (the Voice) is forefront. It should be.’

Many other community leaders across Cape York remain unconvinced about the Voice.

‘Why would I care? The Voice isn’t going to make any difference,’ asked one prominent community leader.

Locals shared similar sentiments as they opposed the Voice.

‘People have just switched off a little bit,’ a children’s service worker said.

Another added: ‘Most of my clients are more worried about day-to-day survival.’

Others are skeptical whether the Voice will achieve its aim of closing the gap between the Indigenous people living in regional, rural and remote areas and white Australians.

Mr Pearson insists Closing the Gap imperatives would be addressed by the Voice.

Federal Monash Liberal MP Russell Broadbent says Auny Cheryl's views on the Voice changed his mind

Federal Monash Liberal MP Russell Broadbent says Auny Cheryl’s views on the Voice changed his mind

‘This is the message of the Voice – by having a voice, we will be responsible for closing the gap,’ he said.

‘This is a critical insight for those concerned with Aboriginal policy at the highest levels and at the grassroots in claiming the right to self determination. We are claiming the right to take responsibility.’

The Albanese government and other Voice advocates often cite a YouGov poll that shows 83 percent of Indigenous people support the body.

A referendum on October 14 will decide if the Voice becomes a constitutional recognition of Australia’s original inhabitants. 

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