Uncle Ivan Simon knows well the challenges of government and bureaucracy, having retired from the public service several years ago.
The Shellharbour resident, a Yuin and Worrimi man, supports the Voice to Parliament as a way for Indigenous Australians to cut through some of the extra hurdles that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities face in having themselves heard by government.
"I don't know why people are so concerned about having such a forum when it's only advising the government - it's not a decision-making body," Uncle Ivan said the day before the referendum.
The Voice to Parliament, if the referendum passes, will be an independent body comprising members chosen by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, which will give advice to parliament and the government.
It will not manage money or deliver services, nor hold veto power.
Uncle Ivan said the benefit of the Voice enshrined within the constitution was that governments would not be able to dismantle it should they have disputes, noting they "don't always hear what they want to hear" from advisory bodies.
He noted the previous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples - two bodies formed to advance the interests of Indigenous Australians - were both abolished.
Uncle Ivan was recently involved in the formation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Association (NATSIHA), an organisation he said governments could see the benefit of because it provided a conduit for engagement with people working at the coalface in housing and associated issues.
NATSIHA is part of the Coalition of Peaks, a representative body of Indigenous community-controlled organisations, which signed the 2020 Closing the Gap agreement with the government.
Uncle Ivan said it was extremely important that any new strategy, such as the Voice, worked with the Coalition of Peaks and the principles of the agreement.
Having this week participated in a national community housing conference, he observed most in the sector supported the Voice, as shown in an earlier joint statement signed by peak housing organisations.
He lamented the negative sentiment the debate around the Voice had stirred up.
"I just can't believe the anxiety this has caused... It should have been a simple process," Uncle Ivan said.
"There shouldn't be any fear around having the Voice."
Beyond the Voice itself, the prospect of constitutional recognition of Australia's first peoples and the world's oldest living culture also holds great significance.
Uncle Ivan said that it had taken 235 years or more for Australia to start to acknowledge that people were here "before the big ships arrived".
"That is disgraceful actually, not recognising these sorts of things in the constitution," he said.
But no matter what happens after Saturday, Uncle Ivan said Indigenous Australians would survive, having done so for 65,000 years.
"We'll keep on keeping on - we are resilient and survivors," he said.
Referendum polls open at 8am on Saturday and close at 6pm.
By the end of Thursday, October 12, 132,225 people in the Illawarra and South Coast had already cast their votes at early voting centres.
An additional 21,233 people had returned postal votes.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.