Historic First Nations Voice elections set for South Australia

South Australia is gearing up for the elections of the inaugural First Nations Voice to State Parliament.

In a move towards amplifying the voices of First Nations communities in South Australia, the state is gearing up for the elections of the inaugural First Nations Voice to State Parliament. This historic initiative aims to establish a structured dialogue between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the state’s key decision-makers. Kyam Maher MLC, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, announced that elections would be held for each of South Australia’s six Local First Nations Voices, marking a pivotal moment in the state’s legislative and community engagement history.

The Electoral Commission of South Australia has completed the Declaration of Nominations, revealing a robust lineup of 113 candidates vying for positions on the Local Voices. This enthusiastic participation underscores the community’s commitment to this groundbreaking governance model. Notably, women represent 55 percent of the candidates, highlighting the inclusive nature of this electoral process.

The First Nations Voice is designed to serve as a direct channel of communication between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across South Australia and the corridors of power, including the State Parliament, the South Australian Government, and heads of government agencies. This body will consist of six Local Voices, each represented by Presiding Members who will articulate the concerns and aspirations of their respective regions on a statewide platform.

Scheduled for Saturday, March 16, with early voting commencing on Wednesday, March 6, the elections are a cornerstone of the state’s commitment to fostering a more inclusive and responsive governance framework. Minister Maher expressed optimism about the initiative, stating, “The First Nations Voice to State Parliament is a new way of doing things that we hope will lead to better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in South Australia.” He emphasized the failure of top-down decision-making processes and the importance of integrating the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities into policy and decision-making to address the disproportionate levels of disadvantage they face.

Echoing Minister Maher’s sentiments, Commissioner for First Nations Voice Dale Agius praised the diverse and passionate candidates stepping forward to represent their communities. “Engaging with communities, as both the legislation and the model were developed through consultation. I’ve been impressed by the wide variety of people who are clearly passionate about improving the lives of Aboriginal South Australians,” Agius remarked. He commended the nominees for seizing this “incredible, once-in-a-generation opportunity” to make a difference.

As South Australia prepares for this landmark election, the enthusiasm and dedication of the candidates and the broader community signal a hopeful future. This initiative represents a significant step towards building a more equitable and inclusive society. Minister Maher and Commissioner Agius both urge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to familiarise themselves with the candidates and to actively participate in the electoral process.

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