Australians will vote in an historic referendum to recognise Indigenous people in the constitution and establish a “voice” to parliament.
This would be an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander group to advise the government on issues related to their community.
The vote has divided Australians.
The most recent polling has the ‘No’ campaign winning.
Why is Australia divided?
A polarising, bitter ‘No’ campaign has been led by Australia’s opposition Liberal Party.
It’s also been supported by a small number of Indigenous leaders who argue the proposal either doesn’t go far enough or it will fail to change the grim reality for remote Aboriginal communities.
The ‘Yes’ campaign says it will give the community agency to advise the government on areas like Indigenous health, education and social services.
Indigenous Australians die up to eight years younger than non-indigenous citizens.
They are 12 times more likely to be in prison.
Aboriginal women are eight times more likely to be murdered than non-indigenous women.
Life in remote communities
Over the years families have been traumatised by poverty, alcohol abuse and violence.
Alice Springs Aboriginal elder Patrick Nandy says alcohol is “killing everyone”.
“You look at that cemetery – it’s getting fuller and fuller. There are funerals nearly every day in Alice Springs.”
Gavin Morris is the principal of Yipirinya, an independently run Indigenous school in Alice Springs.
“The students here have come out of the most harsh, poverty-stricken communities on the frontier of the Australian population bar none,” he says.
“We have kids here who come to us and say, ‘We don’t go home because we don’t feel safe’. This leads to anti-social behaviour and youth crime.”
The plight of remote Indigenous communities is Australia’s national disgrace.
A referendum designed to unite the country to solve the crisis has only driven the communities further apart.