‘Yes’ is about coming together and moving forward

Group of people with a Yes sign

The Elected Body was out and about for the ‘Yes’ campaign last week to drum up support before the community votes in the 14 October referendum.

Catching up with The Long Walk

man and woman talking in front of a flag

On 14 September our Deputy Chairperson Paula McGrady caught up with Michael Long from ‘The Long Walk’ out the front of Parliament House where, just like his historic walk in 2004 from Victoria, his journey ended.

The Long Walk began as a way to get Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues on the national agenda. Michael had set off on The Long Walk from Melbourne 19 days before to show not only his support for the Voice but provide a place for other people to share their support as well.

In response to Paula’s request for ‘the lasting message he wanted The Long Walk to leave’, Michael responded, ‘the message we want to give is about coming together and moving forward.

‘We need to remember that this is a referendum, not an election, and it’s about all Australians, not just voting with their heads but their hearts and rewriting history but never forgetting the past.’

On 14 October, Australia will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the proposed Voice. If the Yes vote has majority, it will give the opportunity for all of our voices to be heard.

Man in front of aboriginal flag and the long walk flag

‘It’s an important part of who we are. Our identity will gain not only two-hundred-and-twenty-odd years of history, it will gain 65,000,’ reflected Michael.

‘It’s time to let Australians all come together. We need to close the gap – the most important thing for our people. So we need to have that discussion with as many people as we can to promote change.’

A crowd of support for Yes23 in Canberra

It’s important for all Australians to continue having the discussion with respect and care. On Sunday 17 September, we also joined up to 5,000 others for a positive demonstration in support of ‘Yes’, led by campaigners Yes23.

We were side by side with a massive and diverse group of people to show our support for the Voice, and to talk with others about how important it has been with our work as the local voice to the ACT Government.

We were inspired by Ngunnawal Aunty Violet Sheridan’s Welcome to Country and speech to the large crowd of Canberrans. She said, ‘This isn’t just about the past it’s about the future. Our voices deserve to be heard in the decisions that shape our lives of our children; our grandchildren.

‘This isn’t a political matter, it is a matter of respect and justice.’

We couldn’t agree more with Aunty Violet and are proud to have shared the path from the National Library of Australia up to Parliament House with Traditional Owners and so many supporters of better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

As we enter the last few weeks of the campaign before the big day on 14 October, we hope to see more of the community taking an interest in this opportunity to acknowledge the past and change our future.

Find out more about the Voice to Parliament and the referendum.


Media contact

ATSIEB Secretariat

(02) 6205 2551

Media release

18 September 2023


Acknowledgement of Country


The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body acknowledges the traditional custodians of Canberra, and those who have made it their home. We celebrate their ongoing culture and contribution to the ACT and surrounding regions.