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Young Australians need to guide their parents and grandparents to vote Yes

Bianca Levin
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Young Australians need to guide their parents and grandparents to vote Yes

Published: 29 September 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

The younger you are, the more likely you are to be planning on voting Yes. Now you need to ensure your elders listen, writes BIANCA LEVIN.

The advocacy of the youth is palpable and brave. I know this, because I grew up in a Jewish youth movement that was fearless and attended a Jewish day school that praised social action.

 In these contexts, young Jewish people demonstrate our pursuit of social justice and our mobilisation towards issues that we believe require change in Australian society.

Like many of the youth in 2023, being guided by my values is important but equally there comes a time where we need to enter into the adult world, get a full-time job and start to establish ourselves in the professional world. We try to balance these competing interests by volunteering. It is demanding but we do it because we care.

I sit on the board of Stand Up, the Jewish social justice non-profit that launched Kol Halev in conjunction with JCCV and am also a lawyer. On hearing that the Voice to Parliament referendum would take place this year, I took a leave of absence from my nascent career to join Kol Halev. I am one of many young people dedicating themselves to this movement for this short, precious time.

To me, this referendum is a once in a generation opportunity to step closer towards achieving justice and reconciliation for our First Nations people. I was lucky to have the support from my law firm to stand up at a time when I felt history was calling.

Young people often see the need for change before the rest of the community. This is why we are generally the most progressive demographic in a society. In the same-sex marriage postal vote, 80%, of young people supported and advocated for a Yes vote. In the upcoming Voice to Parliament referendum, recent polling places 62% of 18-34 year olds as trending towards voting Yes, compared with 42% of those aged 35-54 and only 23% of those aged over 55 or older.  

It is up to us to take our parents' and grandparents' hands and help them walk together towards a brighter future

Young people hold the key to the success of the referendum and our ability to be heard will be essential in swinging the vote. The Uluru Youth Dialogues have recognised this potential impact and launched a #RingYourRellos social media campaign to leverage young people’s power to influence older Australians.

Referendums do not occur very often and when they do it is significant. They reflect the strength of our democracy, our ability to unite under our common conditions of humanity and to deliberate, decide and determine a path forward that is more beneficial, inclusive and just.

Through this referendum, we are shaping a society that we want to grow up within and enshrine a legacy that we are proud of. While our attention is focused on voting Yes, we also need to adjust our lenses and call out to our parents and grandparents. It is up to us to take their hands and help them walk together towards a brighter future based on values of justice, compassion and equity.

First Nations communities make up three per cent of the population but they need the support of 51% to have their voices heard. They have been working on this proposal for over 15 years. The Uluru dialogues held in 2017 may be the most consultative democratic process ever to occur in Australia. This is where the idea of a Voice to Parliament was codified. With over 80% support from First Nations representatives, the idea of a Voice is reflected within the Uluru Statement from the Heart which calls for Voice, Treaty and Truth.

We are now at a stage where the vision of the Uluru Statement from the Heart is coming to life. We have all been invited to walk together to a better future.

William Cooper, a famous Yorta Yorta man, stood up for us in a time when he was not included in the Constitution. He was not a citizen in his own country but stood up for our grandparents after hearing about Kristallnacht and the increasing German fascist rule overtaking Europe. This was at a time when our people were voiceless and needed help. He stood up for us in 1938, and in 2023 let’s repay the debt and stand up for the overwhelming majority of First Nations communities that support the Voice.

Social progress takes time and change is sometimes scary and confronting, but after it has happened, we realise we shouldn’t have been scared. Young people are often the first to embrace the idea of change. We should be inspired by their willingness. This is our watershed moment. We cannot let it wash away beneath us.

Let’s be bold and make this the ninth referendum to succeed.

Image: Together Yes campaign

About the author

Bianca Levin

Bianca Levin is a lawyer, a Board Member of Stand Up: Jewish Commitment to a Better World and a Community Organiser for Kol Halev.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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