A large majority of Australians on Saturday voted against a referendum proposal that aims to constitutionalise an Indigenous voice to the parliament.
Partial and unofficial, but uncontested, results of the poll showed that more than 59% of the voters rejected the “Voice to Parliament” proposal.
Pushing for the referendum, which would create an avenue for the nation’s most disadvantaged minority, was a promise by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese when he was elected.
There were already signs that the “Voice to Parliament” proposal would meet a resounding no, but Albanese chose to ignore them and pushed through.
The country’s top leader blamed his political opponents for the referendum that needed bipartisan support to increase the odds of success.
In fact, opponents mounted a "Recognise a Better Way" campaign prior the referendum, which intended to just focus on the rights of title-holding indigenous peoples.
In the constitution’s more than a century of existence, only eight of 45 referendums have succeeded and all of them were backed by major political parties.
Advocates believe that the Voice will allow Indigenous Australians to finally get the same quality of services that most of the populace receives.
The state of Australia's indigenous people
Indigenous Australians, which makes 3.8% of the population, belong to a dwindling group of people with a life span eight years lower than the wider population.
Australia’s indigenous people comprise of hundreds of groups with their own unique languages, histories, and cultures.
But they started to dwindle down after the successful British colonisation in 1788, with the colonisers exposing them to new diseases and forcibly taking away their lands.
Now, they have a suicide rate twice the national average and they are an easy target of diseases in the remote parts of the country.
If the referendum succeeded, it would create a committee of Indigenous Australians that would have the power to advise the Parliament and government when it comes to issues that affect them.
Advocates expressed disappointment in the results of the referendum with many of them said they needed to take time to absorb the message the rejection is trying to send.
Opponents, meanwhile, hailed the results, adding that the Voice will not resolve the disadvantages of the indigenous populace and will only divide the Australians in the topic of race.
Many of them also fear of repatriation and claims by Indigenous people if the referendum succeeded.