Volunteers gathered at Wangal Park for the “Yes campaign” rally and a community BBQ celebration on September 22.
The hosts of the community BBQ were Reid MP Sally Sitou; NSW Strathfield MP Jason Yat-Sen Li and Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney. Strathfield Mayor Karen Pensabene was also among the participants.
The event had approximately 80 attendees of multicultural background, including Chinese and Indians. The formal speeches began after people had helped themselves to grilled sausages, kicking off with a welcome speech from Reid MP Sally Sitou.
“May we begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land, the Wangal people here at Wangal Park,” she said. “We really wanted to bring everyone together today because there is an extraordinary movement that has been built in our communities, and that is thanks to all of you here.
“There is something that the No Campaign will never have, and that is the enthusiasm, the passion, and the love that you all have.”
Sitou said she was “really pleased to report that the electorate of Reid was the most active Labor-held electorate in all of New South Wales. “We are changing people’s minds every day and it’s amazing.”
Special guest at the event was Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney, a leading figure in the Yes campaign.
“To think that in three weeks, we will go to a referendum. We are going to win this thing conversation by conversation, by reaching out to people, and by explaining that it is not the scary thing that the no-campaign is disgustingly putting around,” she said in her address to the volunteers.
“I was in Parramatta last night and the no campaign has put on WeChat that Aboriginal children will get all the scholarships and your children will get none. That is shameful.”
Burney spoke of the “low” life expectancy for First People, alongside “stillbirth” and “suicide” cases that are “twice as high”.
“It’s not about people taking a golf course. It’s not about locking up old and national parks. It is about recognising that we collectively live in a country, all of us, with a 65,000-year story,” she said.
“It’s about making sure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a say in the issues that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. That, in turn, will deliver better, practical outcomes.
“That is why you’re knocking on doors, going to railway stations, and making phone calls because we want a country that’s fair.”
Burney concluded her speech by citing Peter Malinauskas, the Premier of South Australia’s words and an expression of gratitude to volunteers: “Our grandparents said yes to waves of migration to this country and what a country that’s made. Our parents said yes to land rights and what justice that’s delivered. Surely in 2023, we can say yes to an advisory committee for First Nations people to the Parliament.”
“If it wasn’t for people like yourselves, we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Thank you.”
Sitou invited three volunteers to come forward and receive tokens of appreciation for their contribution to the Yes campaign.
A high school teenager, Isabella, was then introduced to the crowd as she sang her original song inspired by Indigenous culture and the Voice to Parliament. The event ended with a rousing rendition of the crowd singing John Farnham’s “You’re The Voice”.