WACSSO encourages reflection on the impact of the referendum result

15 October 2023

On October 14, 2023, a majority vote answered ‘no’ to “A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.”

WACSSO joins education and community organisations in support of all those impacted by the ‘no’ vote following the referendum. Importantly, we ask now what? The introduction of an advisory body enshrined in the Constitution providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a say on matters that impact them was presented to the Australian people as a step on the journey to reconciliation. While this option was not accepted, the result must not signal the end of this journey.

Parents, school communities, and our membership do not accept that the ‘no’ vote equates to do nothing. Instead, we call for the government to address, with clarity, the statistics of inequity referred to in the Voice to Parliament campaign. The WACSSO 2023 Annual Conference, Yours Mine Ours, saw P&C representatives from school communities across Western Australia call for a collective, unified approach to addressing the needs of all children and young people. Cultural identity is a strength, something to be proud of, and something to celebrate; every child should be supported to thrive in Australia. WACSSO recognises the transformative power of education and the role of school communities to support our children and young people as leaders, as change makers, and as our nation’s future.  

"The outcome will mean different things to different people. However, can we all recognise that community-led, inclusive, respectful, culturally aware, and genuine family engagement practices benefit all children and young people, and make our school communities stronger,” says WACSSO President, Pania Turner. “As we engage in discussions around our communities following this vote, we need to be mindful that the outcome will impact each person differently. It is vital that our school environments are places of safety and places where First Nations culture is embraced. Families, students, school staff, and government working together is our way forward,” she added.

In the lead-up to the referendum, WACSSO encouraged all people to seek education and information to assist with making their own decisions. Access to education is essential to any person seeking to contribute meaningfully to our community. Our hope is that through education and the support of communities, as a nation, we will be able to use the experience of this referendum to reconsider what is needed to create a more inclusive national culture and achieve lasting change.