A new advertisement by the Yes23 campaign, which supports the Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the upcoming referendum, has sparked controversy with its claim that Indigenous Australians have been unheard for the “last 250 years.” Critics have quickly denounced the assertion as false and insulting.
The $20 million advertising campaign, unveiled on Tuesday night, features a well-produced TV commercial that showcases images of joyful Aboriginal Australians and children playing. The ad opens with the statement, “Teams listen to their coaches, children listen to their parents, well, some of the time. When we listen, we understand. When we understand, we can help.”
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney shared the ad on social media, emphasizing the importance of listening. She wrote, “We know that listening works. When governments listen, they make better decisions, get better results, and deliver better value for money. That’s what the Voice is about – listening. Let’s say YES to a Voice on October 14.”
However, prominent figures such as Senator Jacinta Price and radio host Ben Fordham have criticized the campaign’s claim. Fordham pointed out historical instances where Australia did listen to Indigenous grievances, such as the national apology to the stolen generation in 2008 and the return of Wave Hill station to the Gurindji people. He questioned how the “false” claim was approved for the advertising campaign, stating, “Why did we make a national apology to the stolen generation… because we have listened.”
The controversy surrounding the ad raises important questions about the accuracy of its messaging. While it is crucial to acknowledge that Indigenous Australians have faced significant historical injustices and have been subject to systemic discrimination, it is also important to recognize the progress that has been made in recent years. The Voice to Parliament referendum itself is a testament to the fact that the government is actively considering the voices and concerns of Indigenous Australians.
In order to have a meaningful and productive discussion about the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, it is essential to ensure that the information presented is accurate and representative of both historical realities and current dynamics. Misrepresenting the past detracts from the important work of addressing the ongoing challenges faced by Indigenous communities and finding effective solutions.
Moving forward, it is crucial for both supporters and critics of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament to engage in respectful dialogue that acknowledges the complexity of the issue. By fostering a climate of understanding and inclusivity, there is a greater opportunity to work towards a more equitable and just society for all Australians.