Voicing our grief and our strength

Voicing our grief and our strength

Posted by Bronwyn Newnham on

I have been wanting to write this for a while, but just couldn't quite find the right words, but it is time.

On Saturday the 14th of October I was in our shop, and I was just holding my breath, so hopeful of a positive result for our national referendum.

Author Jennifer Worth wrote: "Human beings thrive on the known, and the predictable, we like our calendar and our clock, we like the familiar and the expected, but human beings are foolish, for life has other plans."

I think it was fear of the unknown, of a new step, a new process of giving over some of our authority, and of releasing some control, that gave the No campaign its power. I am so sad that this mild, patient request was met with such a negative reaction.

I have been thinking about the referendum ever since, and I have decided that although 60% of Australians voted against the Voice to Parliament, 40% of us voted with a loud and firm YES. We were so determined that Yes was the right way to go that we did not let anyone persuade us to vote another way. 

And we are still strong, and we are still determined. We voted Yes, even though people threw so much money at the No campaign, and even though the Yes campaign was so badly reported. No amount of laughter, or disdain, or fear, or misinformation, or the constant seeding of doubts, convinced 40% of us that Yes was the wrong way. 

And we mean it, we really mean it. We are 40%, and we are strong, and we are absolutely convinced that Yes is the way forward. 

One of the Indigenous leaders is reported to have said that "reconciliation is dead". The No campaign has taken a huge toll on the leaders. We will never understand what hurtful racial abuse the Indigenous leadership have had to listen to through this campaign.

I want to say to Australia's Indigenous communities: reconciliation is not dead, there is a strong 40%, and we are with you.

Just the conversations we have had, and the awareness of Indigenous culture and wisdom that has been birthed, and the amazing dignity and hard work and intelligence of the Indigenous leadership; these have started a forward momentum that cannot now not be crushed.

We are the Yes people, and we are strong, and we are with you. I know you are feeling so discouraged and exhausted and alone, but through this time, remember that we are with you. 

To the Indigenous Leadership I say: when you are rested and ready, we of the 'Yes' are finally listening....

Indigenous Australians

← Older Post Newer Post →


  • Thank you for this.

    The outcome of the referendum was devastating – even though 6 million Australians voted in favour, almost twice as many voted against.

    Victoria and Queensland MUST continue with their Treaty processes – there are already moves by some to try to stop this since the referendum which must be responded to. Importantly, we need a truth telling process to educate the two thirds of voters who do not seem to understand (care?) that First Nations peoples continue to experience the impact of colonisation today. It is not simply about ‘closing the gap’ – it is about the right of First Nations people to have history properly recorded and acknowledged and being given their proper place in the country we now call Australia.

    It is important that we continue to listen to First Nations peoples as to how they would like things to proceed from here – but we have to try to keep moving forward. This cannot be the end.

    Kind regards
    Janet (Qld)

    Janet on
  • Bron,
    This is so beautifully written. Thank-you for voicing this for the 40% that voted YES.
    Regards, Julie x

    Julie on
  • I loved your words and I totally agree. I was gutted with the result and I’m white. I can’t imagine the pain for our First Nations people. But you’re right – 40% is still promising for the future. When I think back through my life of ignorance about Aboriginal culture, I feel that at the very least, topics are being discussed and have made many more people take notice. I take my hat off to the people who have such inner strength to pull themselves up every day an keep fighting.

    Karen Deer on

Leave a comment

Be Inspired Blog

Bitter Sweet Chocolate
Meet the supplier Products

Bitter Sweet Chocolate

By Bronwyn Newnham

Some nights lying in bed I have considered whether I need just one more yummy thing to eat before sleep, and I have actually even...

Read more
International Women's Day Love | Kenana Knitters

International Women's Day Love | Kenana Knitters

By Rebecca S

At The Fair Trader, investing in women and girls and working to alleviate poverty are two big goals as a Fair Trade business. These two goals...

Read more