How do we support children, young people, their families and communities through the Voice referendum?

Written byKatrina Ross
Published on26 Sep, 2023
Indigenous Australian Boy And Caucasian Girl


Better Chances Forum conversation September 2023

Our national conversation around the Voice referendum presents an important and challenging time for our communities. On 20 September 2023 the Better Chances Forum (BCF) Practice Leadership Group hosted a two-hour online conversation during the BCF connection meeting to build our capacity as workers to support children, young people, their families and communities during this time.

In response to the session we have created an article Information, resources, and supports in the lead up to the Voice to Parliament Referendum to support our community during this time.

Attending the session were 20 workers and managers from the Northern NSW community sector. The conversation covered some facts about the referendum process, how we got here (some history) and referenced a framework from the Australian Human Rights Commission, and our BCF working together agreement. In the conversation we reflected in small and large groups on how children, young people and workers are feeling, and shared strategies for supporting children and young people during this time.

What have we noticed?

  • Need to support children and young people to get quality information and education without bias from a variety of sources, including those with regional connectivity and access issues
  • Some workers are feeling nervous and tense
  • Some organisations are seeking local leadership from First Nations community to ensure there are approaching conversations, offering support and have referral pathways that are culturally respectful
  • Interest in how children are included in political processes in general. How are they being educated, heard and given support to develop and share opinions, ideas, views?

How do we hold hope?

  • Trust our community that we will pull together
  • Acknowledging the strengths of First Nations culture
  • Have referral places and support ready to put in place for participants and staff
  • Provide space in our organisations e.g. team meetings/regional meetings, to have conversations to identify any support, information, resources needed for staff and participants
  • Connect with BCF members for support
  • Acknowledgement of the result and providing a safe space to unpack our feelings

Session feedback

Participants said the session was very informative, supportive, and full of respect for all; it was great event to share common ideas amongst our community members. We check out after each session, check out words included safe, collaborative, strong, close, connected, community, emotional, supported, inspired, reassured and happy.

Next steps

The article Information, resources, and supports in the lead up to the Voice to Parliament Referendum has been created to support our community during this time.

We are framing the next BCF connection session on 18 October to be a space for members to share, connect after the decision. We would like this to be a place to share our learning about how we supported each other and our communities through this time.

To find out more about BCF please visit our website.

Take care