THURSDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Indigenous education, Voice Referendum
CARINA GARLAND, MEMBER FOR CHISHOLM: I’m here at the William Cooper Institute at Monash University in Chisholm today with two very special guests, Minister for Education, Jason Clare and Senator, Malarndirri McCarthy. I always love welcoming people to the electorate, and we’ve heard from students and staff at this remarkable institute about why it’s so important to have First Nations people be consulted so that we can get better outcomes in education and in health and in so many other areas. Malarndirri.
MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS: Thank you, Carina. While William Cooper was a strong First Nations man who led the way on so many levels, we see here at Monash University. But we also know in our hearts across Australia that he stood for fairness and justice and for a voice for First Nations people. This weekend, you have a choice and I ask you to vote yes for First Nations people, to have a voice to the Parliament and the executive and to be recognised in the Constitution with our culture of over 65,000 years.
JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: G’day, everyone. I know a lot of Australians only know Indigenous Australians if they see them on the TV scoring a goal, scoring a try, winning a game. And there’s a young woman here at Monash called Jaya who could have been one of those people. She was a star netball player until injury destroyed all her sporting hopes and dreams. She was told when she was little that sport was for her and school wasn’t, and not to hope or dream about going to university. And so, she didn’t until people in her family, people here, like the people at William Cooper Institute, said, “you could go to uni too and you could be a nurse”. And now she’s in her final year to become a nurse here at Monash. And with all of those skills she’s learning here, she’s going to save lives and she’s going to change lives.
That’s what we think the Voice can do, too. Almost one in two young people today have a uni degree in their twenties and thirties. But only seven per cent of Indigenous young people have a university degree. And we’re doing things to change that. We’ve got legislation in the Parliament that we think will double the number of Indigenous students that have a university degree within a decade. But even if that happens, that’ll increase the number of Indigenous young people with a university degree from seven to 12 per cent. There is still a massive gap. The things that Monash does here help, the things we’re doing in the Parliament help, but the gap is still there. And that’s why the Voice is important. It gives us a chance to supercharge change. In two days’ time, we get a chance to do that. In two days’ time, we can do what really should have happened 122 years ago. We can recognise in the Constitution that Australia didn’t start when Captain Cook got here, that we’ve got a history that goes back 60,000 years and we can do something really practical. Aussies are practical people. We know Indigenous Australians are doing it tough. We want to make sure that our taxpayers’ money is used on the sort of things that are going to make a real difference. By setting up an advisory committee, by listening, we can make better decisions and get better outcomes and help to bring this whole country together. And isn’t that what we all want? And we can do that on Saturday.