Our heroes say “YES”

Noel Pearson, Josh Apanui and a crowd of supporters at Tweed Heads

A remarkable array of talent from every section of society has joined the “YES” campaign. Some are white, while others are black, brown or yellow. Joining the campaign has been a revelation for me: I’ve met people of every background, but they are united in giving First Nations People a voice in Canberra’s Federal Parliament. They are tradesmen and women, artists, musicians, solicitors, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, judges and workers from all walks of life. Early polling has started across the country – an opportune time to list some of the names and occupations of those who are voting “YES” in next month’s referendum.

Nathan Cleary

Nathan Cleary, NRL Grand Final star, gave a thumbs-up to the camera as he posted a video: “No voice, no choice, come on Australia, vote Yes.” Cameron Munster, NRL Storm and international player, also supports YES.

Johnathan Thurston, another NRL legend from the Cowboys in Townsville, posted: “Giving them a say will mean more of our kids reach their potential. That’s what the Voice is about.”

Adam Goodes, former Australian of the Year and AFL star, declared: “There is nothing in the Constitution right now, not a single word, that mentions that anyone was here in 1788. We need to acknowledge this simple fact, and include the first Australians in our Constitution at long last.”

Cathy Freeman

Cathy Freeman, Commonwealth and Olympic Games gold medallist, publicly supported the “YES” campaign: “I can’t remember a time when change felt so urgent, where momentum felt so strong. Let’s show our support for the Australians who need it most. I’m voting “YES”, and I’m asking that all Australians do too.”

Evonne Goolagong Cawley has also supported “YES” saying: “I believe in the simple goodness of every Australian heart. In particular, I say to Australians from my generation, the people who gave me such wonderful and warm support on the biggest stage: ‘Stand with me now and help Australia grab this opportunity. You’ve cheered for me. Now, please, vote with me: vote “YES”.’ Her protégé Ash Barty supports the campaign too.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Ash Party

Carlton and Adelaide great Eddie Betts vowed to keep educating Australians about the nation’s Indigenous culture. “They don’t like Aboriginal people standing up for what they believe in and trying to stamp out racism. It feels like they want to put us back down in our boxes where they think we belong.”

While the 2023 AFL Grand Final was being played in front a packed house at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Brisbane forward Charlie Cameron, Adelaide star Izak Rankine and Fremantle duo Nathan Wilson and Michael Walters were being subject to the vilest abuse at other grounds.

In 2022, Western Bulldogs star Jamarra Ugle-Hagan raised his jersey and pointed to his skin in a show of defiance having also copped abuse from the stands against St Kilda.

It was a moment that drew comparisons to AFL great Nicky Winmar, who in 1993 took a now-famous stand against racism during St Kilda’s clash with Collingwood.

Musicians have been among the first to stand up for “YES”. John Farnham, Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, Missy Higgins and Midnight Oil head a stellar list. Kelly wrote a song especially for the campaign: “If not now, when?” Barnesy appealed to the public, saying: “As an immigrant whose family fled poverty and fear to find a better life, I have always found Australia to be a fair country where most people believe in a fair go.” To answer doubters and the misinformed, rapper Briggs put out a video which has gone viral.

Classical musicians refuse to be left behind. Statements in support have come from Opera Australia, Musica Viva, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s List, and Tim Winton, the internationally acclaimed writer, are Voice supporters.

Richard Flanagan

Writers for the Voice has more than 600 members, including Shankari Chandran, winner of the 2023 Miles Franklin award, Robert Drewe, Nick Earls, Mem Fox, Helen Garner, Kate Grenville, Gideon Haigh, Chris Hammer and Richard Flanagan, who said: “The Voice to Parliament is the question that now appears over our country and, by implication, our literature. For us to be secure, for us to prosper, the answer lies not in relentless exploitation, nor more inequality, nor in reckless acts of external aggression to please larger countries. The answer lies in us and our land, and the way we answer this great question in October 2022. I hope, I pray that our reply will be YES.”

Melissa Lucashenko

The many indigenous writers who also support “YES” include Stan Grant, Anita Heiss and Melissa Lucashenko, with more joining every day.

Every respected Indigenous leader, including Patrick Dodson, Noel Pearson, Megan Davis, Marcia Langton, Thomas Mayo and Rachel Perkins, have lent their names and time to the “YES” campaign.    

Artists for Yes has more than 15,000 members. Artists supporting the Voice campaign include Michael Fitzjames, Lindy Lee and John Firth-Smith.

Sporting bodies, churches, arts and community organisations in their droves are also supporting the “YES” campaign.

Do we stand with them, and with the finest of the nation’s heroes, or with the likes of Sam Newman, Pauline Hanson and Peter Dutton?

It’s a no-brainer.


One comment

  1. YES. Of course. Its a no brainer. Thanks for this article . I have posted on social media to cheer up the Yes People. Jenny Haines

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *