Vote No to the Voice

The Voice: Making Life Even Worse for Us

14 September 2023

8.6 MINS

This is Bess Nungarrayi Price’s foreword to the new book The Spirit Behind the Voice: The Religious Dimension of the “Voice” Proposal, edited by Gabriël Moens and Augusto Zimmermann and published by Connor Court, retailing for $29.95. Stephen Chavura, Senior Lecturer in History at Campion College in Sydney, says of this book:

“One could be forgiven for thinking that the only Christian response to the Voice to Parliament is Yes, if we went by the pronouncements of prominent churchmen and theologians. But I think these prominent churchmen and theologians are misguided on this issue. It is my conviction that when all things are considered, Christians should vote No to this divisive constitutional change. This book is a unique contribution to the debate in that it takes the question of the Voice to Parliament very seriously from a Christian, Jewish and secular point of view. I urge everyone who is pondering how to vote on this momentous question to carefully read this book and give serious consideration to voting No.”

Bess Price, a former Member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly who held several ministries in the Giles government, is a senior teacher at Yipirinya School in Alice Springs. She was made a Member of the Order of Australia in January for “significant service to the Parliament of the Northern Territory, and to the Indigenous community”.

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My father was born in 1914 in Southern Warlpiri country. He saw kardiya (white men) for the first time when he was around twelve years old. My mother, born in 1929, was an infant when she first saw them. When he was fourteen, Dad had to run far to the west with other refugees to avoid the killing that began on Coniston Station after the murder of a kardiya by one of our people, Kamalyarrpa Japanangka.

Between seventy and a hundred Warlpiri, Anmatyerre and Kaytetye men, women and children were killed by the avenging police party, which included Aboriginal men. When the respected and trusted Lutheran missionary Friedrich Albrecht caught up with the refugees, they told him that they would have handed over the killer if they’d been asked to. Kamalyarrpa survived until 1959. All who had died in his place were innocent.

Once the killing had stopped, Dad was happy to work for kardiya on the stations. He convinced his own father that the troubles were over and the kardiya could then be trusted. He understood that not all kardiya were dangerous and bad. Then in 1942, he was arrested by a policeman who had been led to him and his relatives by an Aboriginal tracker. They, and several others, were chained and walked naked and barefoot behind camels, to what was to become the Stuart Highway, then trucked to Alice Springs to be locked up.

He thought he had been arrested for spearing goats on Mount Doreen Station, but actually, he and the others were being recruited to labour for the Army for five shillings a week when a skilled kardiya labourer could earn twenty times as much. He worked for the Army until the end of the war. He was always proud that he had helped to build much of the infrastructure of Alice Springs. He then settled at Yuendumu, set up in 1946, and married my mother.

There he met, worked for and befriended the Baptist minister Tom Fleming. Tom was a small and compassionate man, but tough-minded and determined. He had survived imprisonment in Changi and prison camps on Borneo. He didn’t set out to destroy our culture, but to add to it. He risked his life to stop violence, striding between groups of armed Warlpiri men preparing to attack each other, and shaming them into putting down their weapons and walking away. He saved lives.

Dad taught Tom to speak Warlpiri and, with many other men his age, helped to build the church at Yuendumu as well as a men’s museum to house traditional sacred objects. He was a leading lawman by then, and many of the younger men at Yuendumu have told me that he taught and supported them through their initiation.

He and many other ritual leaders, both men and women, also called themselves Christian. In the 1980s, a strange new ritual was brought to our community from the north-west. It involved forcing men and women to sit for hours in the sun, then to be locked up at night and to be relieved of their money and valuables. My parents would have none of it. It was not traditional, and they thought it strange and oppressive.

They retreated to the church and asked the missionary to protect them from it. They believed that we could be both — Christian and Warlpiri — loyal to our traditions, the ones worth keeping, but replacing those not worth keeping with the teachings of Christ. They were trying to give our old ways a New Testament, a better way of living, while keeping our identity.

Airbrushed by Activists

Things have changed since then. Naturally, those who control the national debate are those people of indigenous descent who speak English and are well educated kardiya way. They have access to the media and politicians and are the loudest in their criticism of governments and kardiya in general. They criticise the old missionaries, but they don’t live by the Old Law and never have. They romanticise it, creating what I call a Disneyland version.

They never talk about the downside, the acceptance of violence as a way to settle conflicts, the misogyny and acceptance of violence against women, the forcing of young girls into marriage with old men, the belief in sorcery. These old ways still cause a lot of problems, like continued violence against women, family feuding and the humbugging that forces so many to give their money to addicted kin for grog and gambling. All of these things come from the culture we were taught as children.

The so-called First Nations Leaders tell us that all of these things are caused by kardiya, by racism and colonisation. They have made everything worse, but all of these problems come from our own culture. The “leaders” call any kardiya racist if they say this, and they put great effort into “cancelling” Aboriginal people like me who want the truth to be known.

Playing Politics

In 2009, I was appointed as the inaugural chair of the Northern Territory government’s Indigenous Affairs Advisory Council by then Deputy Chief Minister Marion Scrymgour. She resigned from the government the same day. Our council then reported to Minister Alison Anderson, who soon after resigned as well. We then reported to Minister Malarndirri McCarthy.

Our council was widely representative, with men and women from all over the Northern Territory, from both the urban, English-speaking and remote traditional-language-speaking Aboriginal population. Although we reported to three Aboriginal women Labor Ministers, I came to feel that we were being effectively ignored by the Labor government. All of our efforts seemed to be in vain.

It was that experience that led me to join the Country Liberal Party to be elected to represent the huge electorate of Stuart and to serve as a minister, the only woman in Cabinet at the time, in our nation’s first government to be led by an indigenous Australian, Adam Giles. I took the place of Alison Anderson in the Cabinet after she had resigned from that government as well. She then went on to be paid by Labor to campaign against me and my daughter in subsequent elections.

Marion Scrymgour is now the member for the federal seat of Lingiari, and Malarndirri McCarthy is now Labor Senator for the Northern Territory. Both vigorously campaign for the Voice to Parliament. My joining the Country Liberal Party has made me anathema to the Labor Party since. They think they own us, and they can’t tolerate our dissenting from their narrative. And they don’t forget.

My family was denied royalties that we were entitled to by the Central Land Council. My father’s role as a senior traditional owner for the country and Dreamings involved were simply denied. When we made a formal complaint, we were denied the most basic natural justice. We have witnessed violence at Central Land Council-convened meetings. They don’t hesitate to use intimidation and manipulation to achieve their goals. We are at their mercy. I was told to my face by a white Central Land Council staff member, “I am a lawyer. I can tell you that you can’t win.” But I have not given up.

Too many Aboriginal organisations are run as family fiefdoms with jobs and benefits distributed on the basis of kinship or political loyalties rather than need. A close relative of mine was told that, despite being qualified for a job with one of them, he would not be offered one because he was related to me.

Labor governments are no better. I applied for a job with the Health Department that I am eminently qualified for. It is work that I have done voluntarily for decades. The Aboriginal manager of the unit concerned told me that she wanted me on board, but there were “problems upstairs”. I applied in November of 2021. I have still not received a formal acknowledgment of that application. A woman known to me was given the job within two weeks of applying. Their nefarious “culturally appropriate” practices would be enshrined in our Constitution if the Voice was passed by the voters.

Target of Hate

The Voice advocates are polite and well-mannered in the light of day, but many are offensive and aggressive in the shadows. My daughter, Senator Nampijinpa Price, and I have been threatened with death several times. In the Northern Territory, we women are used to that. We are routinely vilified in obscene, racist and misogynist terms simply because we disagree with the Left’s narrative.

GetUp sends young Aboriginal women, mostly from Down South, to campaign against us in elections in favour of kardiya who have done nothing for us. We have been ignored or defamed by the mainstream media. I was awarded an Australia Medal on Australia Day this year. I was contacted by commercial media from all over the country, but I have not been contacted once by the ABC, even in my own town of Alice Springs. The Green/Left wish we didn’t exist. We have a different point of view that they don’t want to be heard.

I am deeply disappointed by the churches that have accepted this aggressive wokeness and allowed themselves to become naive virtue-signallers rather than moral guardians and teachers. My people are crying out for moral guidance. Instead, they are being told that their culture, however the Left of politics define it, is always right. Our culture should be critically analysed and improved like any other. We are not all just “victims” who can’t help ourselves in a culture that is faultless.

Kardiya are told to do away with their traditional religion. The old missionaries are condemned. Yet we in the Northern Territory can tell as soon as an older Aboriginal person from a remote community speaks that they were taught by missionaries. They were taught to properly speak, read and write English, while also speaking, reading and writing their own first languages.

It was missionaries who first started teaching in both languages, in the case of Ntaria/Hermannsburg, a century before governments. Now, our kids are not taught to speak English properly, let alone read and write it, in the name of preserving a culture and languages that are fast disappearing anyway. That is why they don’t want to go to school. Governments need to learn from the missionaries, not from their enemies.

Resist

The Voice is being promoted by those who are living off our peoples’ miseries. They are the educated, confident ones who constantly blame kardiya for our problems and do all they can to keep voices like mine unheard. They are not interested in truth-telling; they are interested in imposing their own narrative as the new Gospel. Now anybody can claim to be “First Nations” without challenge.

My husband of forty-four years, the father of my daughter, and tens of thousands of other Australians of all ethnicities who have had children with Aboriginal people, would not be able to vote for a Voice representative or stand for election because they don’t “identify”. They would have no say in what is good for the welfare of their loved ones and their descendants.

Yet anybody who ticks a box on a government form proclaiming themselves, unchallenged, as “indigenous” will be able to. If the Voice gets up, people who have no relevant experience, no knowledge of traditional culture or history and, for too many, no actual descent from our old people, will be able to advise the government on what is good and right for our family and our descendants.

I will be voting No, and I urge all Australians with a conscience, whatever their religion, to do the same. I am sick of burying our children, seeing education denied to them, seeing them incarcerated, living in dire poverty and taken from families that don’t know how to care for them.

We want real solutions and decision-makers willing to listen to all of us, whatever our politics and the languages we speak. We need open ears, not a constitutionally embedded, bureaucratised, highly selective Voice set up and run by those who have controlled the narrative and the funds for decades while everything got worse for us.

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This article was originally published in the September 2023 issue of Quadrant. Subscribe here.
Photo: The Australian

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44 Comments

  1. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich 14 September 2023 at 8:54 am - Reply

    I have lived amongst Indigenous people on Mintabie Opal Fields where I regularly prayed with them and I once took an indidgenous lady in my car back to the clinic where she had been refused medical assistance for her asthma. I received abuse from the nurse who slammed the door in my face . I have met the elites and seen the others who have nothing ! I was asked to be on a jury in a murder trial of a lady who had been murdered in the main street in broad daylight. As I was by then living in Adelaide, I was glad my refusal was accepted. I have been nursed in the Coober Pedy Hospital by an indigenous nurse. I was invited and visited Mimili Homeland . I live by my Christian Faith which teaches we are all brothers and sisters. I resent that because I will vote “No “it is inferred I am “Racist “and “stupid “. I applaud the bravery of Bess Nungarrayi Price and her daughter and deplore the Death Threats they are receiving.

    • Willett Deb 18 September 2023 at 4:04 pm - Reply

      well said!

    • Richard 27 September 2023 at 12:42 am - Reply

      You must have known my Aunty Gertrude?

  2. Leonie Robson 14 September 2023 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    God bless you Bess and your beautiful family.
    We often ask ourselves what true bravery is; we don’t have to look much further than you and your family.
    We will be voting NO because God created us all. He loves us all. We love our indigenous brothers and sisters and every other race of people.
    No, we are not going to live on ‘Animal Farm’ where all animals are created equal, but some more equal than others.
    Helping our most vulnerable and marginalised of country should be a shared goal. Regardless of colour.

    • Aaron 17 September 2023 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      Thanks for this, Aunty Bess!

      Sincerely hope we get this whole mess right some day.

      Isn’t this Voice thing is supposed to be about the heart of us as a nation… not about who’s yelling the loudest!?
      (unfortunately, politics deals with the latter as the way it operates. )

      In the end, if the “yes” mob wins, we’re on the way to addressing some of the issues about Sovereignty as well as our legitimacy as a founded nation and whatnot…

      But if “No” wins, at least our clunky, outdated but nonetheless vital Constitution is held safely intact while we sort ourselves out!

      Thanks for sharing your experiences and opinion… Brings me a little bit of piece in pondering about this whole mess we’re in right now!

  3. Ian Moncrieff 14 September 2023 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    So good to read facts from someone who knows, and has lived the life of, and with, fair dinkum indigenous people. Thank you Bess! Voting NO with you.

  4. Kurt Mahlburg 14 September 2023 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    What an incredible read. Sad but also hopeful. Every Australian needs to read this!

  5. Graham Upshall 15 September 2023 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    As a wyt, immigrant as a 7yo in 1966 I have been taught contradictory history over nearly 60 years.

    I’ll be voting YES to right the wrong of terra nullius, the border wars, the stolen generation, the FAS problem.

    I have been privileged to meet great indigenous social workers, academics, politicians and aunties in NSW, ACT and WA over the years. I am voting YES in recognition of a even better outcome for future generations.

    • Rob Hadfield 17 September 2023 at 1:12 pm - Reply

      Hi Graham
      I’m interested in your comment
      Out of interest have you lived in Aboriginal communities at the grass roots level, on which you base your assessment of the situation and the outcomes that you believe will be produced ❓

    • Greg 20 September 2023 at 10:50 am - Reply

      Graham, I strongly disagree with you view point. I get very concerned when you have only met academics, gov social workers and politicians. Your perspective has been tainted by them and the city Elites. As you have already been challenged, can you give me an honest yes if you have spent time in Alice Springs and remote areas talking with the ones who have can educate you on what really happens there and how the Voice will only make their circumstances worse. If you have not, I suggest you do that before you vote so you form a balanced perspective and understand what the hidden consequences will be if you don’t vote NO.

    • Carolyn Bennett 21 September 2023 at 5:41 pm - Reply

      Yes Graham, I too want to right a wrong in the constitution. Australia/Dreamtime was not empty, of people when Colonised. The fact that Australia was filled with first nation people. Needs to be recognised. The second fact 360 different countries. With individual languages and cultures can be sorted out after the constitution is altered to say the land was occupied before colonisation.
      Jacinda and her mum have been working hard for their country and a number of other countries making up Northern Territory and South Australia. They may even hold influence in some countries, contained in Western Australia.
      Six states and two territories make up via Australian colonization very rarely do we agree.
      How are 360 different countries going to agree.

  6. Gail Petherick 16 September 2023 at 1:22 am - Reply

    Thank you Bess Nungarrayi Price for writing warnings about the other side of Referendum and the situation behind it all.
    I am grieved at the way it’s all been handled because I believe only the local people understand their own culture and know where here are real problems in many communities.
    It has been assumed in the referendum advertising that giving large amount of money and saying sorry again will be a way of addressing the UK invasion and that it will solve all health, education and family problems as well as housing but there is so little understanding of the truth situation of life in communities
    The Government needs to learn to consult those elders and parents who live in communities and towns who want to see Youth attend school, train in a career and respect family and elders.
    Bess has the expertise of an advisor she is a former MP and current teacher at College out of Alice Springs.
    Senator Jacinta is another local expert who know local people and culture and all the intricacies of community life and culture and what is needed to heal lives and relationships. Jacinta in newspaper articles and speeches has clearly told us there needs to be accountability where any money is concerned as a grant e.g. The $30 billion a year given in the past every year for indigenous needs has often gone into bureaucracy or been assigned to other costs- so only 20% has reached the Indigenous people. That might benefit the bureaucrats and law courts well but it does not help the people on the ground. Our Prime Minister did not respond to her when she asked if a Senate Inquiry should be started to find out how he $30 billion has been spent each year
    Bess and Jacinta have pointed out so clearly that there needs to be ways to address alcohol consumption (e.g. keep dry communities dry) and Senator Jacinta has helped lobby for the Federal govt to make the NT Govt re introduce the basic card system so welfare money doesn’t get misspent on alcohol. (While she spoke out about this the town of Alice Springs l was under siege due to the basic card been taken away and people freely drinking and many hurt and several killed.) Bess and Jacinta have also both emphasized the need for women to be respected and domestic violence addressed (again alcohol is a problem) .
    Bess has made it so clear that both she and her family were denied royalties simply because they speak truth and don’t agree with the Labor attempt to make them be a puppet for their agenda; Bess and Jacinta would not take a bribe from Labor either. They have risked their lives to speak truth and tried to warn the public of the underlying issues that will remain unresolved if the Labor policy goes ahead.
    They are truly brave warriors and a voice for truth and genuinely care for their own people but the social media and party in power is trying to denigrate and silence them. They need our prayers, respect and support. I pray their voice is heard before it’s too late or further division, violence, hate and resentment will follow. There has to be a forgiveness for the past and a walking together side by side for the sake of all who love Australia and her people.
    Thank you Bess Nungarrayi and Senator Jacinta -may God bless you, keep you and protect you and reward you for your brave stand for truth and for sound reason.

    • H Harrison 16 September 2023 at 6:20 pm - Reply

      Ditto to this reply. Why can’t people even ask why there is such a push for a yes vote, and going to any length to promote it. The PM will not even meet to listen to indigenous voices NOW! This alone should sound alarm bells to any thinking person.

  7. Keep Peter 16 September 2023 at 10:18 am - Reply

    Neil please read this

  8. jackie best 16 September 2023 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    YOU CAN BE SO PROUD of yourself and your passion to see truth prevail..You and your beautiful daughter..

  9. Pam 16 September 2023 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    I will be voting no and hope Jacinta becomes a leader in the next federal government. Thank you for adding to the narrative with truth and honesty.

  10. Scott Lucas 18 September 2023 at 7:35 am - Reply

    I would love to see Jacinta at some point be our PM. She knows all people well. She stands for all Australians no matter their colour. She stands to see First Nations people as valuable, not as victims. Praying for her and her family, for God’s protection against those who threaten to kill her.

    • Leigh Kohlman 18 September 2023 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      I’m a unionist and a no voter

  11. Owen Butler 18 September 2023 at 11:06 am - Reply

    I will be voting yes because the majority of indigenous live in the capital cities where culture is not strong, education is poor, employment is wanting, incarceration is appalling, 30% occupancy in VIC and 70% in QLD are FN & TSI. 100% youth in NT an highest rate for children in the WORLD.
    Something is desperately wrong and status quo just won’t cut it any more. YES23 march in Melbourne was supported by numerous religious and ethic groups. 10’s of thousands marched yesterday because they see a solution and HOPE. No hope with a status quo. Nothing will change.

    • Janne 24 September 2023 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      the majority of actual aboriginal people do not live in major cities. The so called Aboriginal people in the cities are more white than black. the aboriginal people who need help live in rote communities. Did you not read Bess Prices story or do you not understand? A No vote is the best way to help.

    • Robbie 27 September 2023 at 12:35 pm - Reply

      Just one point on incarceration, that seldom gets mentioned.
      DON’T DO THE CRIME then YOU DON’T DO THE TIME.
      It’s really quite simple.
      Applicable to all race, colour & creed.

  12. Gail Petherick 18 September 2023 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    The Referendum implications need accountablity as both Bess Price and Senator Jacinta Price have said

    Senator Jacinta Price has been an outstanding voice of reason and for her people. Bess Price her amazing mother went before to be a voice of truth in politics and she is still actively speaking as the article above shows. As said earlier Senator Jacinta has rightly asked the PM to have an inquiry into the Senate just to see where the $30 billion went each year as it was also revealed only 20% gets to the people on the ground. John Howard on Sky News this weekend has asked the same thing and asked the PM to read the Uluru statement as this is necessary so all facts as revealed and nothing is hidden. Andrew Bolt has presented the facts and said 55% of the land has been given back whole 11 indigenous MPs were appointed over the last years for Federal Govt t represent the 3.8% of indigenous people who now live in Australia – so the way has already been paved to make any amends.
    No wonder Jacinta and Bess are fighting this referendum to say accountiblity and controls in place, as its the tax payers money and it must be handled wisely – yet it’s not about the money as such but the wellbeing of those who desperately need help with health, education, housing and other needs (relatives and bureaucrats absorb so much and law courts can too, so that money needs to get into the right hands)
    Any Federal Govt payment needs accountability and monitoring by a group who have integrity. To ask this is sound thinking yet they are called racist and being met with death threats!

    What is not understood by all Australians is that in the communities and towns alcohol and substance abuse are rife – meth/ice and also petrol sniffing to a lesser extent can be such a painful scourge and curse on a community. Elders and those in charge always needed to work so hard to stop these practices and to stop the smuggling in of prohibited goods. Most communities have a sign up to say ‘alcohol prohibited’ but these elders need our prayers and many have died now or are worn out and some have given up fighting substance abuse.

    When we lived in Darwin for 30 yrs many youth and older ones (male and female) came to live in town from communities simply to get drink. ‘Long grass people’ was then used for itinerant people and sadly at times some resorted to begging in the main streets of Darwin’s (Melbourne has the same with the homeless people who are all walks of life and Caucasian, some are sick, some are Veterans and some are unable to pay rent or addicted). Sadly for any indigenous people moving from a community has created a homeless crisis and is caused by the longing to have drink and sometimes substance abuse- and it has been the undoing of many. (We know too Caucasian youth and people also have this crisis)

    Youth crises: Since 2015 we have had an incredible youth crisis (highest crime per capital is here in Townville) Senator Jacinta and Bess Price know the same inside story as Alice was far worst when the basic card was withdrawn and chaos, violence, and burning of shops occurred and attacks and break ins of homes – all mayhem and waste. The enemy of souls used the situation to have many drink away the Govt allowance and abandon all responsibilities in family (our culture too can have that happen but there are more ways to deal with it). The voice of Jacinta rung out- it took a long time to be heard and finally the basic card was restored which stops money being spent on alcohol and puts food o the table for the children.

    To combat this problem of youth addiction and crime the Darwin and Alice springs night patrols helped round up some and indigenous auxiliary police officer got on side and were used to counsel youth which in turn averted much crime but it came down to the those who cared to go in and try to prevent crime (some were Christians like Mission Australia with a food van) to rescue kids off the street and offer the men a dry out shelter in the city and the others in need were all ages who were sent in the night patrol vans out of town to dry out (instead of using police cells and having police ‘babysit’ those who needed to sleep things off)
    Many know tragic scene so well and all in Darwin do and in Alice too -but does the Federal Govt realise or the advisers form ‘the Left?’ Alice has town camps but Darwin had none of these camps – instead its the bush or moving to a crowded house). In those days the local NT Govt was lobbied until it supported the night patrol and tined auxiliary officers and the program worked well as money was wells pent on prevention. Meanwhile we found so many nurses, teachers and social and community workers and missionaries all loved indigenous people but the root issues had be addressed.

    Tragically, now we have Jacinta, Bess Price and Anthony and Warren Mundine those who want to help constructively being persecuted by the left who want to call the need for accountiblity and planning ‘racism’

    To sum up, no one can deny that evaluation of earlier attempts to say sorry are needed: The Referendum is a hopefully a time to say sorry again but it has to be very practical (a point missed by our Federal Govt). The new plan has to be very well thought out and carefully planned with local input e.g., a review of what has been done so far. ow many know there are already 11 indigenous members are in Federal Parliament? Their role needs evaluating and highlighting and to be practical. The Federal Govt and communities need to how many children have left school early of and how to stem the tide of absenteeism. How any now have a chance to do schooling within a community and whether attending boarding schools far away from culture are the best option?

    Also, finding out which communities succeed at finding ways to train youth work programs, careers and healthy lifestyles (without alcohol ensnaring them or substance abuse) and which ones fail to do this and evaluate why (some communities have strong elders and mentors who keep youth in line and some parents succeed in training youth but much of this is not a cultural norm). Also to evaluate what happens in communities when large amounts of money (even mining royalties) came in. Then find out what happens to money given for health, education, food, housing and work programs and find out how to ensure money from Federal Govt is channeled into community needs and used on the ground for the right people as it’s been found often its absorbed by the bureaucrats (middle men) and also there can be kinship favoritism so money goes more to next of kin or the jobs go to them instead of fair distribution.

    Tax payers too want peace and reconciliation and good will is being shown. It’s a sound policy to always have checks in place as John Howard said recently and to know that money is used constructively and to know what has been constructively planned to help the situation of supporting vulnerable indigenous people of all generations. Its also sound policy to listen to the ones who have thought this through ad who are asking for the Federal Govt to listen to their voices- Jacinta Price, Bess Price, Warren and Anthony Mundine- are all pointing out what wont work and advising what will work and yet are receiving death threats from their own people, slander and lies from the media and yet their voices ironically are not being listened to.

    May God show the way -and His way thru this as He did Moses and raise up strong leaders ..and may He protect Jacinta and Bess and their families meanwhile from curses, death threats lies and slander for they are paying the price of showing the truth in this situation. They are asking for accountability and practical solutions- and realize throwing money at people doesn’t work but are saying forgiveness and moving forward together will work.

    • Jeffrey Pugh 21 September 2023 at 10:34 am - Reply

      Well argued Gail.

  13. Rod 18 September 2023 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    I appreciate reading Bess Nungarrayi Price’s words. I am a YES supporter and I found her words challenging (I also know many First Nation Christians who are voting YES). However, unless Bess herself placed and/or approved the hyperlinks put on her text they should be removed. Otherwise this site is using her words in bad faith to promote their own interpretation of Bess’ words rather than her own.

    • Jean Seah 19 September 2023 at 11:41 am - Reply

      Warwick Marsh of the Canberra Declaration has obtained permission from Bess for the hyperlinks to be inserted, as is usual SEO practice on current websites.

  14. Willett Deb 18 September 2023 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    l respect you and Jacinta so much, for being brave enough to tell the Truth. Thank you both and all your family for everything you do ♡

  15. Mick connellymick 18 September 2023 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    im a no voter for certain,and i too would love to see jacinta as prime minister

  16. Warwick Marsh 18 September 2023 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Bess Price’s article is extremely powerful. The comments are wonderful both for and against. This is the debate we need to have in the most respectful way.

  17. Jane 19 September 2023 at 12:34 am - Reply

    I spoke raw truth, without bad language or embellishment, on a new pseudo media page on Facebook. A page that had photos of do gooder poseurs making signs on beaches and marching across bridges for the photos for media. I got blocked for suggesting they listen to the people who nurse women raped and beaten to within an inch of their lives and the effects of sexual assault on children. I asked why they weren’t listening to them. That was the last question I asked. I still think it is going to be the women, like Bess and Jacinta who are going to make life safer for their own. I greatly admire both of you and wish you well! Voting No here.

  18. Lynn James 19 September 2023 at 2:03 am - Reply

    Well after reading this I feel ashamed and sick to my stomach of how your father and your ancestors were treated. Not much has changed when your daughter and yourself are having your lives threatened. I for one are very proud to have aboriginal people as Australia’s native people. I just wish everyone could live together peacefully. Thank the lord that you are strong enough to spread the word. I for one will vote NO for you and your people. And may we all live together in harmony xxxx

  19. Rozz dyer 19 September 2023 at 6:56 am - Reply

    Wise words from a wise woman. If the yes vote gets up she better be on the Voice advisory panel. Maybe just maybe then it may achieve something

    • Carolyn 29 September 2023 at 6:46 am - Reply

      That is why there is The Voice proposal, to hear these voices directly about how to improve health and education for first peoples. many of the reasons given in the comments are reasons for voting Yes.

  20. Gail Petherick 19 September 2023 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    Thank you Bess for standing earlier as an MP and now being senior teacher at Yiripinga College and for your many years of educating others. I thank God for you and Jacinta and for your stand for peace in the land and betterment of the women and children and strong male and female leaders. Thank you for standing strong against the storm as you advocate for a move to stand together and to ask all of Australia to move forward as one.
    It has also been helpful to see that in the past 200yrs+ there have been moves to increase educational and health standards, to reduce Domestic violence, to reduce youth crime and there has been a an urgent request to try to to train youth in careers and to bring children into preschool at an early age so they learn to read and write early- as well as having home programs to encourage reading. You two and others have stood for all those things and for the ay of forgiveness.
    Some of the voters in Australia may not realise all that has already been done (though there is a long way to go).
    It also is worth pointing out to those who say Indigenous people are victims (The yes campaigners) that other nations and cultures that over took other countries in history have sought to oppress the original inhabitants eg Stalin starved millions to death many Ukraine, Hitler tried to exterminate all Jews, and Communist Governments killed off the middle class, doctors, teachers and those who could be a threat to the their communist rule and made all to be subserveant to their rulers. .
    We know the UK Govt failed to do enough and there were some terrible massacres and there were invasions of land which were not right in God’s eyes. However much of that has already been forgiven and Australia has moved on as one. On the good side, the UK settlers also did bring in sources for medicine, food, water and the gospel of salvation and tried later to share resources.
    The past always will need forgiveness and there are strong leaders like Bess and Jacinta Price, and others like Elder James Dargin advocating that side of things, thankfully, and others are pointing out what steps have already been taken to address wrongs. Ultimately to forgive brings freedom spiritually and positive outcomes, whereas hate, revenge and resistance will cripple our nation. May God enable all to forgive -remembering Jesus example on the cross.

  21. Siglinde Cavanagh 19 September 2023 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your story More people should listen to yourself and your talented daughter ,,Its a no from all the family And yes I too was shocked to hear that our church is telling us to vote yes ,God bless your family

  22. Stephen Lewin 20 September 2023 at 7:22 am - Reply

    Thank you Bess for sharing , and living and being involved with church in communities for many years in central Australia , see the things similar she brings to attention in her life story

  23. Patricia Nalder 21 September 2023 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Thank you Bess for your story. We need to listen to people from the communities who are struggling with the abuses of alcohol, domestic violence and sexual assault of women and young girls.
    Thank you and Jacinta I will be voting No.

  24. Lorna Russom 22 September 2023 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Thank you Bess for your dedication to our society ; in your sharing & for those that want to listen with an open heart & mind , it is only this TRUTH that will set us ALL free from the tyranny & greed of man. I personally am grateful that we all experience & will benefit by the sacrifice you & your beautiful daughter & family ,have , the courage to speak this TRUTH …
    NO is the only answer to this vote of deception

  25. Gail Petherick 22 September 2023 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Thank you again to Bess and Senator Jacinta Price for being a strong voice amongst many confusing political voices. I have been praying we can agree on the basic issues for the needs of the indigenous people and mainstream Australia.
    I looked back on some of the history of what has been done so far to make amends and to build bridges and to strengthen all Indigenous people, especially as this present generation of youth have become more disengaged. I found some of the milestones began when PM Whitlam gave land rights and now 55% of the and is under ‘native title’ or first nations control. I found the right to vote was introduced after different ones lobbied for this.
    There were attempts to compensate made in NSW (the largest indigenous population is in NSW) where $75,000 was given to anyone who who was a person taken in the ‘stolen generation’ when the Govt of the day tried to integrate both peoples by taking children into foster or adopting families but a later Govt admitted this was wrong to do.
    There are 11 Indigenous MP’s in the House of Representatives and senate to represent the existing 3.8% of the population who are Indigenous. There has been $30 billion year given in the budget to all but only 20% has reached the indigenous people it was meant to help and yet the Prime Minister wont allow an inquiry to see where the remaining $25 billion has gone each year.
    (We know Jacinta has asked as she wants this money to be used for education, health, housing and well being of her people -yet our Prime minister did not seek to answer her when she raised the question is Govt.)
    There has been over $300 million spent so far on advertising the ‘yes’ vote and many businesses including QANTAS have supported the yes vote and so have some sporting stars. Yet the $300million (which will blow out to the billion mark over time ) could have been spent directly on the people who need it in communities and remote areas where there is a great need of housing and career training or in the cities on housing, prevention of youth crime, more mentoring programs, training rangers, mechanics, nurses, teachers, artists, singers, and helping the young children in pre school and the teaching assistants – and liaison officers and community workers (who used to round up children and make sure they attended school).
    I thank each person who has invested in to the need of Indigenous/First nation people of all ages as I have known many and all I knew on communities listened to their fellow friends, community leaders and to the Indigenous workers hey cared for – working alongside them with a mutual goal of helping every indigenous person rich their best potential and he whole community thrive…That was in their hearts and it still is. The same with Bess and Jacinta and many others like James Gargin who love their people and are filled with wisdom and care…
    May we come out of this referendum era better informed. May we move ahead on the journey that started years before this. May we see that situations were mostly improved by legislation to help indigenous people where there was outstanding hurt. Forgiveness alone can heal those wounds but a payout was given to show the sorry was real.
    There is no genetic way to identify who is indigenous but each sate decided (eg Victoria says 1/4 of the blood line is enough to show one’s ancestral history). This had created a new problem as there has been an 85% increase of people saying they are Indigenous and claiming payments. (The local Land councils must sign them off also) so many problems lie ahead about heritage..
    Notably any changes for good did not need a referendum every time… the payment in NSW of $75.000 per person was a state decision. It also didn’t need big businesses and TV advertising either. It simply went ahead as an act of justice and to say sorry to the stolen children of that past generation. The majority of Australia are terribly sorry for the past wrongs but it remains timely to forgive again all that has been seen as hurtful. May God’s peace reign over and within Australia

  26. Susan &Daniel Cunningham 22 September 2023 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    THANKYOU Bess and Jacinta,and all the common sense people who hear your words of truth from the heart, of living alongside your family and friends and all people effected by the injustice of no accountability.. Lorna states what I feel and more, as someone white who grew up in the outback of Australia with aboriginal children as my best friends , some 60years ago ‘ my only memories of that was I showed the dirt more & got sunburnt from all our wanderings in the bush..” In our home we are avid Sky News watchers where you hear all sides of issues from different guest,s and there Sky News Team are common sense caring , well researched educated people who really care about Australia and all AUSTRALIANS..2014 Tony Abbott spoke about “INDEGENOUS HERITAGE” BRITISH FOUNDATION” IMINGRANT CHARACTER”For me that states the obvious……THE neglect that has gone on so long , and all sides of parliment haven,t been there for the innocent people ,SENATOR JACINTA NAMPIJINPA PRICE has worked so hard to get to a position in government to right this wrong , because she has heard these voices with all three ears, and has seen first hand the violence of family members against family members BUT it,s Aboriginal Culture the old ways, and the BULLY,S run free of the law.. AT the top of my bucket list is one day I will get to meet Jacinta and her family, and Peta Credlin.. For now I can only wish for them to stay safe,,, I really believe that a lot of them well meaning yes voters don,t fully understand what this will mean to all Australians , they just feel good to be doing the right thing for the wrong aboriginal people.For a moment could they put their brain in gear and ask” WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MONEY” ??? WHAT HAS IT BEEN USED FOR”??? IT SURE HASN,T BEEN USED TO BUILD BOARDING SCHOOLS IN THE OUTBACK, to keep ABORININAL CHILDREN Safe and Healthy & Educated.. It hasn,t been used to PROTECT innocent people from family VIOLENCE… and now we are a COUNTRY more divided because miss guided people want to go down in HISTORY for???? When the NO people like SENATOR JACINTA NAMPIJINPA PRICE, her family and “NO ” voting people are being abused and threatened just like the outback people they are SUPPORTING…Iam totally speaking from the heart of someone born in our beautiful country.and are very fearful that my children, grandchildren & great grandchildren , won,t live in the AUSTRALIA I know & LOVE..

  27. Nesta Sutherland 22 September 2023 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    As a white Christian woman, I have always ‘sensed in my spirit’ that this Voice proposal is being used by the Labor Government as a clever political ploy, to enable them to begin making changes to our Constitution without alarming the voting public, who they hope will see it as a compassionate move towards indigenous people. My decision to vote NO has only been strengthened by the honesty and courage of Bess and her daughter Jacinta. Although I feel totally biased, my prayer for God’s will in this proposal will be based on the truth of the Bible – Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Genesis 18:25

  28. Dee Palmer 24 September 2023 at 9:25 am - Reply

    I do not think this Voice proposal will help at all.I personally think it will only divide us as a nation.We are all one and we have to stand United.I for one want what is best for us all.God made us all we are all his people therefore we are all brothers and sisters.After reading Bess Price’s story my conviction on the Voice vote has only shown how right her and her wonderful daughter Jacinta are.We need to listen to them as they are speaking not ‘their’ truth but the actual truth.Let’s stand behind these strong honest caring women and the people and really make a change.

  29. Catherine 3 October 2023 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Many thanks Bess. This information was very thought-provoking and heart-stirring. Thank you also to your wonderful daughter Jacinta for her hard work on this campaign, which I greatly admire.

  30. Warren Brown 12 October 2023 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Thank you Bess Nungarrayi Price, Senator Jacinta Price and Warren Mundine for bravely standing up and speaking out on this issue despite the abuse that has been hurled at you by the usual suspects.
    All the good people of Australia stand steadfastly behind you and greatly respect you.
    May God bless you and protect you and ultimately reward you for standing for truth and sound reason.

  31. Joy Miriam 22 October 2023 at 8:49 am - Reply

    I didn’t vote, I couldn’t condone yes or no and didn’t want to go informal, perhaps they will take me off the electoral roll

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