SPEECH: Thank you to Newcastle for voting YES in the referendum


Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle—Deputy Speaker) (10:56): I rise to thank the people of Newcastle for voting yes in the referendum last weekend. Newcastle has recorded the highest 'yes' vote outside of any capital city in Australia, and that is something we should all be very proud of. Thank you for answering the call of First Nations people, for recognition, for listening and for better outcomes for all Australians.

I'm enormously grateful to the hundreds of volunteers in Newcastle who knocked on doors, made phone calls and ran street stalls and community events. Novocastrians showed up in their thousands to walk for yes. They had conversations with their families, their friends, their neighbours and their workmates. Almost 6,000 doors were knocked on since mid-July. More than 400 yard signs were proudly displayed on fences and houses. Hundreds of phone calls were made over many weeks. There were 12 street stalls in suburbs across Newcastle. The 'yes' vote result in Newcastle is testament to this massive effort.

I also want to acknowledge those locally based organisations that came out publicly to support the 'yes' campaign, including the City of Newcastle and the University of Newcastle, which listened to the voices of students, staff and alumni to reach its considered position.The University of Newcastle has the highest number of First Nations students of any university in Australia, and its decision was led by evidence and following consultation over a number of months, including surveys, information sessions and community reference groups.

Finally, I especially want to pay tribute to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders who gave so much of themselves to bring fellow Australians on this journey. It has been a long road across some very difficult terrain, and the people of Newcastle stand with you. I know that many Novocastrians will be feeling disheartened by the national results, but this is not the start or the end of the struggle for First Nations justice. It has been with us for a very long time. We will take some time to pause and reflect as a community but then regather because our commitment and conviction for a better future for Australia's First People is no less urgent today than it was yesterday or even decades ago. Together we will forge a new path. I know we can do this.