Peak multicultural organizations have accused the No campaign of stoking fear among multicultural and migrant communities in a bid to convince them to vote against Voice to Parliament.
- Multicultural and refugee organizations have accused the No campaign of spreading disinformation in their communities
- Half of Australia has a parent born overseas, making them a crucial group in the outcome of the referendum.
- The opposition leader has been accused of “feigning concern” for multicultural Australians during the Voice debate.
Tomorrow, Australians will vote on whether to enshrine in the constitution an independent advisory body, which would provide non-binding advice to government and parliament on policies affecting First Nations people.
Half of Australians have a parent born overseas, making them a crucial group in the outcome of the referendum.
More than 120 migrant and cultural organizations have declared their support for The Voice, but the No campaign still resonates with the communities these groups represent.
Professor Jioji Ravulo, chair of social work and policy studies at the University of Sydney, said there was a misunderstanding of what the referendum was about in these communities.
“The Yes and No campaigns had clear messages, but they were caught up in misinformation and some sources of narratives that create a binary approach to First Nations here in Australia,” Professor Ravulo said.
“Quite discouraged”: the maximum number of refugees
Kon Karapanagiotidis, CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, said he wished the Australian government had shown more leadership and been better prepared to engage multicultural communities on the ground.
“I think the Australian government as a whole has done a poor job of engaging multicultural communities,” Mr Karapanagiotidis said.
“I was quite disheartened to hear that they were only now starting to put things in other languages and I think there was a real missed opportunity.
“I think they did a really good job in many ways, but they should have invested more to make it more accessible.”
The Australian Electoral Commission distributed leaflets presenting both yes and no in 34 languages.
The Federation of Ethnic Community Councils of Australia (FECCA) said it had long supported the Voice to Parliament proposal and its president Carlo Carli accused the No campaign of “distracting rhetoric” around Voice.
Mr Carli said the particular Voice misinformation he had heard resonating with migrant and multicultural communities was that what they had “worked hard for” could be taken away from them by the success of the referendum.
He said no campaign message had made multicultural groups feel “confronted with their own sense of being Australian”, believing the Voice would create a level of inequity.
Dutton accused of ‘feigning concern’ about multicultural groups
Opposition leader and No supporter Peter Dutton has had a historically contentious relationship with multicultural and migrant communities and has upset many with his comments in the past.
But Mr Dutton has now pushed for those same communities to join him in voting no.
“It doesn’t matter if you are of Chinese or Italian descent, everyone in our country is equal and the Prime Minister treats people differently depending on when they arrived in our country and that is not something we should tolerate this debate in our country,” Mr Dutton said last week.
Mr Karapanagiotidis accused the No camp and Mr Dutton of feigning concern for multicultural groups.
“It is ridiculous to see him caring about the well-being of our communities when every time he has had a portfolio in which he could have done good for our communities, he has done the complete opposite,” Mr. .Karapanagiotidis.
Mr Dutton said The Voice would “re-racialise our nation” in a speech that Australia’s Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney called “misinformation” and scaremongering.
“I think Peter Dutton’s comments about re-racializing communities is where many multicultural communities also feel a little unsure because of our own lived experience of feeling like outsiders,” Professor Ravulo said.
Mr Carli said no campaigner had made a significant impact on public discourse through the Voice debate, but had failed to properly engage with multicultural communities and “ethnic media”.
The ABC has contacted Mr Dutton’s office for comment.
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