Following the result of the Voice to Parliament referendum
Last Saturday, Australians were asked to vote in a Referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in our Constitution, and to establish a First Nations Voice to Parliament. 60% of Australians rejected the invitation expressed in the Statement from the Heart. For many members of our Cathedral community this is a deeply disappointing outcome.
The debate on the Statement from the Heart and the Voice to Parliament has been divisive and antagonistic and has put the First Nations leaders of our Diocese and Cathedral community under incredible strain.
St Paul’s Cathedral has taken up the call by First Nations elders to share in a week of silence following the result. As the repercussions of the ‘no’ vote become clearer, please continue to pray for our First Nations leaders and people, and for the ongoing work of attaining a more just settlement for First Peoples in Australia.
Our support to walk together with First Peoples on the journey outlined in the Statement from the Heart, is based on two years of discussion and reflection, listening and learning, and fostering relationships between First Nations Australians and later arrivals. Earlier this year, our Cathedral community took the formal decision to walk together with First Nations People on the way to Makarrata—coming together after a struggle.
I am proud that St Paul’s is a community where leaders and members take our important decisions together. That includes any decision on whether and when we may remove the large-scale banner on our front spire calling on the Australian people to join us in accepting the invitation issued in the Statement from the Heart. We will have these important conversations with our governing body and our members over the next few months.
We may not have persuaded the nation to join us in saying ‘yes’ to the Statement from the Heart, but I take heart that the city we serve has overwhelmingly expressed its support for the Voice to Parliament; 78% of the people of Melbourne voted ‘yes’, the highest result in our nation.
We have left base-camp. Rather than look back, we will continue to face the challenges ahead as we walk together with our First Nations people. We will continue to listen to, and hear, the Voice that calls from the Heart, and we will continue to say ‘yes’ to its gracious invitation to shape a better future for our nation.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ our Lord.