If you’ve been following us for more than a hot minute, it’ll come as no surprise that we are loudly and proudly advocating for a “YES!” vote in the upcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament. We reckon it's a no-brainer – a step toward justice, respect, and reconciliation – and a vision for a more inclusive and equitable Australia that is written into the birth certificate of our modern nation (aka the Constitution).
What is The Voice to Parliament?
In summary, we’re voting on whether or not we should change the Constitution to formally recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First People of Australia, and then give those people input into government policies that will affect them.
It really is that simple.
Recognition is the first step towards true reconciliation and should not – nay cannot – be a controversial statement. “Australia” has existed for about 200 years, yet science has proven the ancestors of Aboriginal Australians began arriving here from south-east Asia approximately 65,000 years ago. Their connection to this place is unbroken in all those millennia, easily making Aboriginal Australians the longest continuing civilisation on Earth. And it’s crucial to remember that sovereignty was never ceded, despite the widespread murder and forcible eviction that is the uncomfortable bedrock of ‘modern’ Australia.
Why do we need Constitutional change?
‘The Voice’ itself will be a modest but important change – a Constitutionally enshrined advisory body to the federal parliament that would give Indigenous people a say in the design of any government policies that might affect them. This is important because recent history teaches us that good intentions are always at the mercy of the ballot box.
Without Constitutional protection, this ‘Voice’ will be no different to the five (yes, 5) other Indigenous advisory bodies we’ve had in the recent past, started by one governing party only to be disbanded by the next. Constitutional recognition is the necessary protection to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future.
It’s important to reiterate that ‘The Voice’ will not be able to make laws. That’s what our elected representatives in parliament are for. The Voice is purely a sounding board for the government to listen. The insanity is that not listening has mostly been the default in Canberra when it comes to Indigenous policy.
Better results through listening
65,000 years is a really, really long time. So long that it’s hard to wrap your head around it. But if it’s easier, consider that's approximately 2,600 generations.
Take a moment to let that sink in.
And in all that time, it’s safe to say that Aboriginal people have learnt a thing or two about taking care of country, as well as taking care of themselves. So it only makes sense that the government of the day would want to tap into this amazing knowldedge bank when designing policies that seek to redress the systemic issues that continue to create such poor outcomes for this marginalised group.
The Voice to Parliament isn't just political jargon; it's about empowerment. It's about giving Indigenous communities the tools they need to shape their own destiny. Imagine the positive impact this could have on the very heart of our nation.
Why are we voting “YES!”?
We’re a proudly diverse pack here at Citizen Wolf. We hail from a great variety of backgrounds and ethnicities as immigrants, refugees, and also those lucky enough to be born in this great sunburnt land. And we are part of the 97% of non-Indigenous Australians who hold the future of our Indigenous brothers and sisters in our hands at the ballot box this October.
We might be famous for creating quality, custom-fit clothing but that’s not why we get up every day. Our vision and purpose at Citizen Wolf is to change a broken system and replace it with something better – better for the customer and better for the planet at the same time.
And that’s exactly the same reason we believe in the Voice to Parliament, because the current system is broken for most Indigenous Australians – they are 10x more likely to be in jail, only 73% as likely to have finished Year 12 or equivalent, and with far lower life expectancy and far higher rates of chronic illness compared to the non-Indigenous population (ABS 2020 and Closing the Gap 2021).
To put that into perspective, an Aboriginal man is more likely to end up in jail than he is to complete university. Think about that.
Why should we care about something that doesn’t really affect us?
We understand that the Voice to Parliament will not affect our lives, which is why we believe “YES!” is the moral answer in this referendum. How could we possibly vote against something that is virtually guaranteed not to affect our lives, yet highly likely to improve the lives of others?
Even though we are not of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, we recognise this moment and ‘The Voice’ as an opportunity to embrace and celebrate the longest continuing civilsation on Earth. 65,000 years of taking care of country sounds like something we should all be taking note of, especially when it comes to dealing with the ravages of climate change on our great land.
It’s time to change things for the better, and the great news is that we have the power to make this change. We cannot hit snooze on this – we have only a few weeks to make an informed decision.
We implore you to read up on the facts, understand the implications and politely ignore all the misdirection that is so assiduously being promoted. When the time comes to put pencil to paper, make the choice that resonates with your values.
We hope you join us on the right side of history and vote “YES!” to The Voice to Parliament.
Because as JFK said “If not us, who? And if not now, when?”
PS – A note to those who think brands should stay quiet
We know this has become a loaded topic. We understand that not everyone will agree with our position. We realise that some of you will stop buying our clothes as a result of this blog post. And you know what? That's fine. We’ll be sad to see you go, but living our values is far more important than optimising for profit.
Since Day 1, Citizen Wolf has stood for authenticity and individuality and we’ve never shied away from politics. We find the commentary around “businesses should stay out of politics” highly amusing. Fuck that – what you buy is a political decision, whether you like it or not.
So continue to shop with us. Or don’t.
We respect your choice either way.
Citizen Wolf acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land upon which we work, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community and we pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.