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Advocates for the Indigenous Voice will issue a new appeal to multicultural Australians to back the proposal amid signs that 18 per cent of non-Anglo voters are yet to decide their position on the October 14 referendum.
The campaign will aim to persuade women in Chinese, Vietnamese, Greek and Italian communities to support the Yes side in the hope they will want to help Indigenous families who have suffered disadvantage.
Voters arrive to cast their early vote on the Voice referendum as last-minute campaigning targets multicultural Australians.Credit: Getty
“Women from migrant and refugee communities are likely to empathise with First Nations people as many have also suffered dispossession, dislocation and tensions that harmed their loved ones and communities,” Victorian Women’s Trust executive director Mary Crooks said.
But Opposition Leader Peter Dutton also made a direct plea to Australians from migrant backgrounds on Tuesday, warning that the Voice would divide people by their ancestry and undermine equality for multicultural communities.
The Voice gained formal support from 120 peak ethnic groups in May when the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia backed the proposal, although recent surveys suggest the support has waned among voters.
The Resolve Political Monitor, conducted for this masthead by research company Resolve Strategic, found last month that support for the Voice was 41 per cent among voters from Anglo backgrounds and 43 per cent among other voters who were given a “yes or no” choice about the proposal.
On an earlier question that allowed people to say they were unsure, the September survey found that 13 per cent of Anglo voters were undecided but that this increased to 18 per cent among other voters.
Resolve director Jim Reed said this suggested voters from ethnic communities could be “more targetable” for the rival campaigns. The findings were based on responses from 1604 voters from September 5 to 9, with a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.
Victorian Women’s Trust is taking out full-page advertisements in non-English language newspapers to reach the target voters, reflecting concerns that many were not engaged in the debate in mainstream media.
The ads will appear in national Greek community newspaper Neos Kosmos, Italian language paper Il Globo, the Australian China Daily, and Vietnamese paper Adelaide Tuần Báo.
“This open letter presents a powerful case for why women should vote Yes,” human rights lawyer Maria Dimopoulos said in a statement.
Dutton appealed to migrant communities on Tuesday with an argument that they should embrace their equal status to Indigenous people.
Speaking to the media at a press conference organised at a Perth cafe run by Vietnamese migrants, Dutton hailed the success and work ethic of the shop’s owners and repeated his claim the Voice would divide the country along racial lines.
“At the moment, the prime minister’s made a decision to try and separate Australians depending on when they came here or their heritage and their ancestry, and that’s just not something that the Australian public is going to accept,” he said.
“We’re all equal – and that is a very important element of the success story that is modern Australia. So, I want to say to all of those migrants who have come to our country recently or many generations ago: that this is an opportunity in this campaign to express your view, like millions of other Australians, that we are all equal.”
Campaigning in Hobart after a federal cabinet meeting in the city, Albanese said the Voice would produce better outcomes because it would offer advice from Indigenous Australians, while a No vote would not change the outcomes seen today.
“If Australia votes Yes, it will show respect for the first Australians, but it will do something else as well. We’ll feel better about ourselves as a nation because when you come to terms with your history, when you reach out and you think about others, you feel better about yourself,” he said.
Asked on ABC radio about the fall in support for the Voice in the opinion polls, Albanese said the referendum was “certainly winnable” for the Yes side.
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