I'm not an Australian citizen. That's right, I don't get a say in the Voice referendum.
I wish I could because I have thoughts. Not all are fully formed, but they all come from a place of respect and care for other human beings. They also come from experience, having lived through two referendums - Scottish Independence and Brexit. Both were equally divisive as the Voice over the last few weeks.
When it came to Brexit, I was firmly opposed to quitting Europe.
I remember the morning after. I was at an assembly for my son's primary school in the North East of England. I shed tears as I realised those kids would no longer have the future we had imagined for them. I was grieving the loss of opportunity.
Until then, Europe had provided us with funding to grow our city, freedom of passage to countries on the continent, the chance to trade freely without fear of borders, and reciprocal healthcare.
That opportunity was snuffed out. And with hindsight, we can see exactly where that has left the UK economically and socially. It's not a pretty picture.
In many ways, the Voice referendum is nothing like Brexit and Scottish Independence. In many other ways, it is exactly the same. It's about deciding what kind of country we want to live in.
Read more: The Yes case for a Voice to Parliament
A successful vote for no will stamp down potential for Australia.
It puts the nation back to the drawing board, a drawing board which is likely to have new players, with many different agendas sitting around it and one that will drag on for many more decades.
The Voice may be imperfect, but it opens the door to opportunity.
An opportunity to have a discussion. An opportunity to hash out the next steps side by side. An opportunity to grow up as a nation.
An opportunity to show our children what respect, recognition and healing looks like. This is an opportunity to show them that the path to healing starts with imperfect action.
When you go to the polls, whether for an early vote or on referendum day on Saturday, October 14, 2023, think carefully about Australia's opportunity.
Choose to listen.
- Gayle Tomlinson
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