Mount Gambier forums to inform community ahead of referendum on Indigenous Voice to Parliament

BE INFORMED: Pictured above are Burrandies Aboriginal Corporation board member Cheryle Saunders, acting chief executive officer Tara Bonney and Jason Wallace of who are calling on the community to attend a forum at the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre to learn about the Indigenous Voice to Parliament and upcoming referendum.

A COMMUNITY forum will be held at the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre to encourage the Limestone Coast community to learn about the Voice to Parliament and be prepared to make an informed vote at the upcoming referendum.

Burrandies Aboriginal Corporation, and the South Australian Council of Social Service have partnered to deliver the forums on September 6, with afternoon and evening sessions starting at 1pm and 6.30pm.

Burrandies Aboriginal Corporation board member Cheryle Saunders said it was important to share accurate information about the purpose of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament as all Australians would vote in the referendum.

"This should be a unifying moment for our country that generates change and a better future for generations to come," she said.

The forums will feature special guest and facilitator Ngarrindjeri , Kaurna and Wirangu woman Melissa Clarke, who was a delegate at the Constitutional Convention at Uluru and a signatory to the Uluru Statement - Voice, Treaty, Truth.

The forum will include an overview of the Uluru Statement and the referendum process, followed by a panel discussion and question and answer session.

“We are hoping to see strong attendance from across the community because all Australians will vote in the referendum and everyone should be informed with accurate information,” Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan champion Jason Wallace said.

“Information will be provided at the forum with a focus on the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its call to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution, implement a First Nations Voice to Parliament and work towards Treaty and Truth-telling as key steps on Australia’s journey to reconciliation.”

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He said the forum was not only a unique opportunity for anyone to learn about the voice and referendum, but also gather with local Aboriginal community leaders and First Nations people as a unifying demonstration of support in learning and walking together towards a more reconciled nation.

Tara Bonney is acting chief executive officer at Burrandies Aboriginal Corporation after working closely alongside the late Robyn Campbell.

The Aboriginal and extended community is in mourning following the recent death of the community leader.

Ms Bonney said Ms Campbell was always a strong advocate for a better future for First Nations people and had been committed to hosting a forum.

“We want to continue the organisation of this event in her honour - this is something that Robyn wanted to participate in as she saw the value and opportunity in informing and uniting the community,” she said.

“Personally, the changes to the constitution that have been proposed are important after previous generations of Aboriginal leaders have done so much to ensure Indigenous people have the rights we have today.

“I want to contribute to making a stand and informing the community now to make sure that the future is better for my daughter. For this to happen, the Constitution should recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this Country - we were always here and we always will be.”

She said a Voice to Parliament to allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice on laws and policies that affect them was also important to achieve better outcomes for First Nations people.

SACOSS chief executive officer Ross Womersley said the outcome of the referendum would have a significant impact on efforts towards recognition and reconciliation.

“We all need to feel equipped to answer the question that is being put to all Australians,” he said.

“We hope that these forums will enable people to feel better informed and share what they’ve learned with others in their workplaces and communities.”

Bookings for the forum can be made at