In light of the outcome of the recent referendum on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Roses in the Ocean wishes to acknowledge the hurt experienced and profound impact on those who were in favour of this important step forward. We reaffirm our support for urgently closing the gap in the suicide rate, acknowledging this can only be achieved by implementing the solutions First Nations communities have said will work for them.
Roses in the Ocean supports a Yes vote in the 14 October referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian constitution through the establishment of a Voice to Parliament.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the many lands and waters around Australia on which our team lives and works, and we pay respect to Elders past and present.
As a suicide prevention and lived experience of suicide organisation, we see the Voice to Parliament as an important step towards elevating the self-determination that is critical for suicide prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people die from suicide at more than twice the rate of the non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
Ending this unacceptable disparity should be an urgent concern for all Australians.
Roses in the Ocean represents people with lived experience of suicide. We understand suicide as a complex phenomenon that relates to the social, economic, historical and political conditions that people and their communities experience. We know that an essential part of closing the gap in the suicide rate is addressing the imbalance of power and influence that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have in the decisions governments make about their communities. The Voice to Parliament will help make this change.
We realise that no proposal will ever receive unanimous support in any community. We continue to support all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with lived experience of suicide irrespective of how you vote in the referendum.
However, we are aware of the evidence of extraordinarily high support for a Yes vote among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Successive polls indicate support for The Voice to Parliament exceeding 80 per cent in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Our support is also guided by the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations that have endorsed constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament.
In particular, we have noted the support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention organisations including Gayaa Dwuhi, the Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and Black Rainbow. We are aware of the endorsement of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) whose membership of 140 Aboriginal health services around Australia are at the forefront of efforts to close the gap in the suicide rate. We are also conscious of the strong support for The Voice from Aboriginal Land Councils in remote communities.
We acknowledge that constitutional recognition in the form of a Voice to Parliament is the request of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, developed through the most representative consultative process ever undertaken in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We recognise the Uluru Statement’s request for constitutional recognition that is not merely symbolic but practical and meaningful. We support the Uluru Statement’s aspirations for Voice, Truth and Treaty, and note the treaty processes already underway in a number of states.
Roses in the Ocean continues to build our own capabilities to be an ally to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through educating and training our staff and supporting the activities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations in suicide prevention when we are requested.
We ask the Australian community to act with great compassion and integrity as we approach the referendum, with the utmost care for the emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
We encourage everyone to take the time to be well informed about the referendum and to consider only the most credible and accurate information sources as you reflect on your vote.
Most of all, we ask that Australians vote Yes to grasp this unprecedented opportunity to help close the gap in the suicide rate.