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First ad for yes vote on Indigenous voice asks all Australians to talk about referendum

The first ad campaign to encourage a yes vote in a referendum on an Indigenous voice to parliament is an emotive pitch targeted at everyday Australians from different walks of life.

The Uluru Dialogue group has produced the ad to support its voice referendum campaign, “History is calling”. It coincides with one local council making a call for 1,000 volunteers to sign up for a training program to raise support for a yes vote.

Uluru Dialogue co-chair and Alyawarre woman Pat Anderson said the ad campaign marks the start of a “journey of nation-building” and is designed to encourage Australians to talk about the voice with family, friends and work colleagues.

Uluru Dialogue co-chair Pat Anderson, centre, in a still from the first ad campaign to encourage a yes vote in a referendum on an Indigenous voice to parliament.
Uluru Dialogue co-chair Pat Anderson, centre, in a still from the first ad campaign to encourage a yes vote in a referendum on an Indigenous voice to parliament. Photograph: Uluru Dialogue

“Silence never made history, and history is calling,” Anderson, who features in the ad, said.

“It’s up to all Australians to answer. We call upon the nation to continue walking with us on this final stretch to a better future.”

The ad is the creation of Kamilaroi Wiradjuri director Jordan Watton and Arrernte-Kalkadoon director of Photography, Tyson Perkins – grandson of Charles Perkins. Yuwaalaraay Gamilaraay – Yorta Yorta and Yuin man, James Henry, grandson of music legend, Jimmy Little, composed the music. The ad begins with Pitjantjatjara and Nyungar actor Trevor Jamieson telling children a campfire tale, shot at night near Alice Springs.

Pitjantjatjara and Nyungar actor Trevor Jamieson in a still from the ad campaign.
Actor Trevor Jamieson in a still from the ad campaign. Photograph: Uluru Dialogue

The ad campaign comes alongside a national consultation with constitutional and public law experts about the form of words in the proposed amendment to the constitution and the wording of the possible referendum question.

Led by the University of NSW’s Indigenous law centre, the consultation will test the proposal put by the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, in his speech to the Garma festival in July.

Albanese suggested the question “Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?” and three sentences be added to the constitution:

  • There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to parliament and the executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

  • The parliament shall, subject to this constitution, have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

Meanwhile, one city council has announced it will train 1,000 volunteers to help spread the word about the voice and the upcoming referendum.

Sydney’s Inner West council is seeking people to join a “civic education program” to build awareness about the Uluru statement from the heart.

Its mayor, Darcy Byrne, said it was time for people to “step up and contribute to educating our neighbours”, and the program should be a model for councils all over Australia.

“We are aiming to train local citizens to talk to their neighbours but also travel to other communities in Sydney and NSW to build awareness there too,” Byrne said.

The public campaigns come amid criticism of the Albanese government’s handling of the voice debate.

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, said the voice was an “incredibly important issue” but he was concerned the government was “making a lot of this up on the run”.

“There is a lot of concern when you speak to people in private about whether the government really has thought all of this through as to what the implications will be, the basic questions can’t yet be answered,” Dutton told media at Parliament House on Friday.

“I think there are questions that reasonably should be answered and we’re approaching it in good faith, but I hope that the prime minister can provide those answers,” he said.

The minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, responded in an interview with Sky News on Sunday.

“What I’m really encouraged about is that Peter Dutton continues to say that he’s got an open mind,” Burney said.

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