Australian Buddhists and Multi-Faith Coalition Call for 'Yes' in Referendum on Indigenous Constitutional Body

- through Henry Oudin

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A multi-faith alliance that includes the Australian Sangha Association (ASA) has coordinated a “national weekend of prayer, reflection and meditation” across Australia to urge its supporters to vote “yes” in the upcoming referendum national on the recognition of indigenous people and a voice in Parliament. , which is officially underway with a mandatory vote taking place on October 14.

The referendum will decide whether the national government should amend the country's Constitution to recognize Australia's first peoples by creating a body called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

For supporters, the wording is important. Although a bill to amend the constitution may seem like a radical move, this change is seen as the only way to recognize the First Peoples: in other words, the current constitution does not do the minimum of recognizing the status of the first inhabitants of Australia. For a 'yes' vote to succeed, the referendum will need a majority of votes nationally as well as a majority in at least four of Australia's six states.

The multifaith weekend reflections began on September 8 at 11 a.m. and concluded on September 10 at 19 p.m. Representatives of Australia's Buddhist community, represented by ASA monks, embarked on a 56-hour meditation to support the position of the multi-faith coalition. Fri. ASA's Drolkar delivered a speech in Adelaide, while Ven. ASA Secretary Mettaji, who spoke in Perth, issued a statement:

It is very important that all Australians are heard and supported equally, especially on issues and policies that affect everyone's lives. First Nations people have demanded this right and it must be granted with care, respect and good faith. This moment is above politics: the Australian Sangha Association believes it is a moral imperative to ensure a constitutionally guaranteed voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Fri. Mettaji speaks at the Perth event. Taken from

Other members of the multi-faith coalition also issued statements. Jillian Segal, President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, noted:

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry was one of the first groups to support the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart in which Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples called for constitutional recognition of their status of Australia's First Nations and a constitutionally guaranteed First Nations voice. There is a clear moral imperative for constitutional recognition of Australia's First Nations. Many multicultural and faith communities that generally align on different sides of the political spectrum have united to support a clear majority, although not all, of Australia's First Nations people in favor of the referendum.


Reverend John Gilmore, President of the National Council of Churches Australia, said:

Together and individually we want to create moments where we can be present to God and in these moments seek and discern as communities and people where God guides us to consider the invitation contained in the Uluru Declaration from the heart . As people of faith, this is what we must do. As people of faith, we believe that supporting “yes” will be a meaningful and faithful expression of these important shared values ​​reflected in our diverse faith traditions. Supporting “yes” will help all Australians be part of one human community, promote reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and affirm the dignity of all people in this country.


Adel Salman, president of the Islamic Council of Victoria, said:

Muslims have a long and rich history with the indigenous peoples of this country we call Australia, predating European colonization by hundreds of years. Trade, cultural exchange and intermarriage were hallmarks of this story, and it was all based on respect, trust and shared values. Given all of this, it is natural that Muslims feel a special affinity with First Nations peoples and identify with their struggles against dispossession, injustice and disadvantage. The Islamic Council of Victoria wholeheartedly supports the Uluru Declaration, which provides a path to truth, reconciliation and self-determination. And a necessary step is to recognize the Indigenous voice in Parliament in the Australian Constitution.


The ASA, which describes itself as a representative body of monks and nuns from all Buddhist traditions in Australia, has worked to clearly and decisively highlight the moral, political and even spiritual importance of the 'yes' vote. . Currently, the "yes" vote is far behind the "no" vote, with national support for the constitutional amendment standing at 43 percent in August. Support for this referendum is a flagship policy of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Supporters fear that voter apathy, an uncharismatic campaign on the merits of a "yes" vote and confusion about Voice's real impact and potential to help Indigenous communities' many problems have sapped momentum.

“There is a long way to go, but my goal is to persuade people of the critical opportunities we have to make a real difference in the lives of First Nations people, but more profoundly, to make a difference in the type of countries that we have. that may be the case,” Albanese told reporters in Canberra. (Sydney Morning Herald)

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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