On Saturday 14 October 2023 we will be asked to vote on the 45th Referendum since 1901 to amend the Australian Constitution:
“A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”
The Charles Perkins Centre leadership fully and unequivocally supports the YES vote for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice on 14 October.
Working to close the gap in the health and wellbeing of our First Nations peoples is at the very core of what we do. After all, we are named after Dr Charles Perkins AO, an Arrernte and Kalkadoon man from the Northern Territory, and the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to graduate from a university in Australia. His commitment to activism and social justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is reflected in our commitment to working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to find solutions together for the burden of chronic disease which continues to afflict Australia’s First Nations communities disproportionately.
The Charles Perkins Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health theme has been at the core of our academic program since our inception in 2012. We have an ongoing commitment to First Nations health, which continues to deepen and strengthen under the direction of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Steering Committee.
Unless the approaches to Aboriginal health are broadened to include greater attention to the health problems of adults and are matched by broad ranging strategies aimed at redressing Aboriginal social and economic disadvantages, it is likely that overall mortality will remain high
The Charles Perkins Centre sits proudly on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and each day as we arrive, we’re welcomed by Kudjla/Gangalu artist Daniel Boyd’s wonderful portrait of Charles Perkins in the foyer of our building. It reminds us daily of Charles Perkins’s passion and achievement, of all those who have come before us, directing us towards small and large acts of reconciliation and focusing on how we must all be responsible for our own actions while advocating for the health and wellbeing of our First Nations peoples.
“Unless the approaches to Aboriginal health are broadened to include greater attention to the health problems of adults and are matched by broad ranging strategies aimed at redressing Aboriginal social and economic disadvantages, it is likely that overall mortality will remain high.”
Thirty years after Dr Perkins’s speech opening Australia’s first National/International Indigenous and Economic Conference in 1993, his prescience is staggering and the lack of progress a tragedy. We now have a choice to change the status quo and follow Dr Perkins’s advocacy: “the answer lies with the mass of Aboriginal people” by voting for a voice to the voiceless. More than 80 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples surveyed agree with the proposition for the Voice.
Whilst encouraging freedom of choice and respecting differences of opinion, the leadership of the Charles Perkins Centre is proud to support a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. We unequivocally accept the Uluru Statement’s invitation for all Australians to walk together for a better, healthier future.
Professor Stephen J Simpson AC FAA FRS, Academic Director, Charles Perkins Centre
Professor Jakelin Troy, Leader, Charles Perkins Centre Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Theme
Charles Perkins Centre Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Steering Committee
Charles Perkins Centre Executive Committee
Charles Perkins Centre EMCR Committee
Charles Perkins by Daniel Boyd, 2016