There’s still hope. Every conversation matters.
As soon as PM Albanese announced the Referendum date, we wanted to ask our communities a question: if they were to vote today, how would they vote and why?
So, Clothing The Gaps and Urban List joined forces to do just that.
We surveyed a total of 1,602 people, 223 people identified as Mob* and 1,379 identified as non-Indigenous, from the Clothing The Gaps and Urban List audience databases and social followings.
We have been hearing so much from other polls where the ‘Yes’ vote is on the decline so it was a pleasant surprise, and a relief to learn that:
- Eight five percent (85%) of Mob said they would vote 'yes'
- Ninety one percent (91%) of non-Indigenous people said they would vote 'yes'
Who responded to the survey?
We surveyed a total of one thousand, six hundred and two (1,602) people. Two hundred and twenty three (223) people identified as being Mob and one thousand, three hundred and seventy nine (1,379) people identified as non-Indigenous.
Gender of respondents.
Over sixty percent (60%) of participants who filled out the survey were either from Victoria or New South Wales. The location profile for people who completed this survey was similar for Mob and non-Indigenous people.
Metropolitan, regional or remote.
Sixty one percent (61%) of Mob and seventy six percent (76%) of non-Indigenous people who responded to this survey live in a metropolitan city.
What did they say?
Q. If the referendum was on today, how would you vote?
This is what Mob said. Eighty five percent (85%) of Mob said they would vote 'Yes'. Eleven percent (11%) of Mob would vote 'No'. Three percent (3%) of Mob would abstain. One percent (1%) of Mob who completed the survey are not enrolled to vote.
*Abstain = enrolled to vote but choosing not to vote.
Why Mob and Non-Indigenous people voted ‘yes’.
Out of eleven (11) possible answers - the top three (3) answers supporting why people were voting ‘yes’ are...
Seventy percent (70%) of Mob and seventy-six percent (76%) non-Indigenous people who are voting ‘yes’ believe that... the Australian Constitution should recognise Indigenous Australians and pay respect to 65,000 years of culture and tradition.
Fifty percent (50%) of Mob and Fifty-seven percent (57%) of non-Indigenous people who are voting ‘yes’ believe that... voting ‘yes’ is a small step in the right direction towards treaty and truth-telling.
Forty-eight percent (48%) of Mob and fifty-three percent (53%) of non-Indigenous people who are voting ‘yes’ believe that... voting 'yes' give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a say in matters than affect them directly.
Interestingly, the top three (3) answers supporting a ‘yes’ vote were the same for both Mob and non-Indigenous people.
Why Mob voted 'no'.
Eleven percent (11%) of Mob are voting 'no'. Out of fourteen (14) possible answers - the top three (3) answers supporting why Mob were voting ‘no’ are...
- Fifty percent (50%) of Mob who are voting ‘no’ believe that...the Voice won't deliver meaningful change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - more bureaucracy is not the answer.
- Forty-two percent (42%) of Mob who are voting ‘no’ believe that... who represents the Voice is unclear – will they be handpicked or elected?
- Thirty-three percent (33%) of Mob who are voting ‘no’... do not trust that the government will deliver on what they are promising. .
Why non-Indigenous people voted 'no'.
Six percent (6%) of non-Indigenous people are voting 'no'. Out of fourteen (14) possible answers - the top three (3) answers supporting why non-Indigenous people were voting ‘no’ are...
- Fifty-four percent (54%) of non-Indigenous people who are voting ‘no’ believe that... the Voice won't deliver meaningful change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - more bureaucracy is not the answer.
- Fifty percent (50%) of non-Indigenous people who are voting ‘no’ believe that... the Voice divisive, we are the one Australian people - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don't need a seperate Voice.
- Thirty-six percent (36%) of non-Indigenous people who are voting ‘no’ believe that... there is not enough detail about the Voice will work.
One word that sums up how Mob are feeling about the upcoming Referendum.
One word that sums up how non-Indigenous people are feeling about the upcoming Referendum.
The highest ranking word for both Mob and non-Indigenous people summing up how they were feeling was 'hopeful'.
Some quotes and comments from the survey.
Here’s what some Mob shared...
"One baby step is better than no steps taken at all. Modern day problems need modern day solutions. Something is better than nothing and if this doesn't pass, unfortunately our children and grandchildren will be fighting this same battle in 50 years time." (Voting Yes)
"I know it'll never be a perfect outcome for everyone, but I hope Australia makes the right choice." (Voting Yes)
“Why do we need the voice when everything that needs to be fixed or changed can be done right now without it. Make the people in charge of the current situation more accountable for their actions.” (Voting No)
"I feel like this has divided a lot of First Nations people. Lots have opinions and the reasonings behind a lot of them don't make sense. There also feels like there is cherry picking around how much of the politics they want to play to get things done. It feels like I'm hearing non-Indigenous people saying they are voting ‘No’ because they think the government isn't telling them all the details (they fear land being taken back or taxed - basically Indigenous Voice will have too much power) - and then Indigenous people are voting ‘No’ because the voice doesn't have *enough* power... It is all doing my head in. I wish it was just pushed through instead of needing to vote at all." (Voting Yes)
"I support #WriteYes while knowing how small of a win it is. At this point, it’s more-so symbolic. The most effective solution is to dismantle the systems in place, but I’m not a smart enough person to motion that, so for the meantime, I believe we should aim for every win within the current system we can get. I think a ‘No’ vote will make being First Nations scary. I feel like it will give racists the momentum that a ‘yes’ vote will give mob and allies." (Voting Yes)
"The No campaign worries me. Even though it seems to be driven by misinformation, it feeds on fear and has lots of people dubious in a yes vote. Makes me pessimistic about the outcome and the increase in racism leading up to and beyond the vote." (Voting Yes)
"I’m concerned about the mental health of my people. I know a lot will be affected if majority rules no. I don’t want to go backwards in time, it’s time to take steps forward with any opportunity we get. I don’t know what my future will look like if this doesn’t fall through, and I’m scared for the future of my children." (Voting Yes)
"I am concerned that the Voice that is heard will not be the voice across Australia. I am concerned that only particular Mobs will be helped or favoured." (Voting Yes)
"It’s not truthful, it’s not treaty - it’s a government agenda again.” (Voting No)
"I am worried that Mob who want to vote ‘no’ will wake up the next day and realise there is no clean slate we can start from. No-one in the government or broader Australia will want to listen to us anymore. They will say we have had a chance, and the answer was ‘No’. It will put us back decades. We don't always agree in Community but Mob who are saying vote ‘No’ are driving me mad!!" (Voting Yes)
"I feel that this could be a stepping stone to progress, but I worry when the opposition gets back into power that they will ignore the Voice all together. There must be assurances that the Voice and Treaty are taken seriously and that we achieve Treaty ASAP!" (Abstaining from Voting)
"My single word choice of 'exhausting' is my current feeling in the week of the voting date being announced. I feel this because Australia's racism is showing, and their voices are loud and taxing to hear circulated or echoed by ignorant people. I don't want this to divide Australia or cause rifts between Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples but am confident that there is enough ground swell support to push this over the line. I am optimistic, but I do have trepidation." (Voting Yes)
"I worry if I vote ‘yes’, I’m giving away our sovereignty or not being strong enough to call for a treaty first. If I vote ‘no’, I am lumped in with the Liberal party despots and every other person who seeks to keep us quiet and under control like mission managers. If I don’t vote ‘yes’, am I missing an opportunity for our community to take a step forward. In saying that, why has it taken so long to achieve so little? I hate being put in this position! Also, reading anything online and in social media regarding the voice referendum is gut wrenching, the racism, hatred, generalisations and stereotyping is worse than usual. It’s sickening and harmful to read and leaves me feeling depleted and despondent with human nature." (Voting Yes)
“How is ‘listening’ and ‘advice’ going to help? Things need to be put into action.” (Voting No)
"They need more grassroots communities and/or younger advocates promoting voice. Otherwise it just looks like usual academia and politicians telling black fullas what we should be doing." (Voting Yes)
"It feels a lot like modern day assimilation, if the Voice was a step towards First Nations having autonomy and an actual contribution to decisions made for our people and our land, then there wouldn’t be clauses in there about the government having ultimate power to override. It feels like at best a “let’s give em this and see how they go with it”. The other issue is we make up such a small percentage of the population, so once again, white people will be making the decision about our future with 95 or so percent of the vote." (Abstaining from Voting)
"I fear for the mental health of Mob and what it says about the broader Australian community if the Voice fails. The racism and vitriol being espoused by No campaigners is damaging to mental health. I fear even reading any article or post with a comments section. I just hope that the racist diatribe bring espoused is only by a vocal minority and does not reflect the views of more people in our country." (Voting Yes)
"The pressure is immense; I work with other Mob who are determined that we should be voting ‘No’ - that this doesn’t go far enough. And while I agree that we need and deserve more, I believe this will be a start. I'm also afraid about what will happen if it doesn't get through. The racist Right will feel that their hate is well justified because clearly, it's what the Australian public wants." (Voting Yes)
"It’s honestly really disappointing how the media are portraying the vote. How they are focusing so much on the very few Aboriginal people who want to vote ‘no’ and aren’t adequately describing and highlighting why they’re voting no. So many people are thinking well if the Aboriginal people don’t want it then why should I vote ‘yes’. It’s honestly so disheartening and tbh causing me mental distress. And I don’t think the stupid government has considered the mental strain this has on Mob who already struggle with so much. It shouldn’t be a vote it should just be a given that’s put through." (Voting Yes)
Here’s what some non-Indigenous people shared...
"I can't wait to vote 'YES'. It's long overdue and the next step towards healthier and happier lives for Australia's First Nations people. I am proud to have First Nations people at the heart of my Australian identity." (Voting Yes)
"I hope we don't f*ck this up as we have so many other things in the past." (Voting Yes)
"I'm also wondering about the capacity of Indigenous groups to understand the complexities of government?" (Voting No)
"I want to get involved, but as with most Indigenous matters I feel stuck. My voice is not relevant and not needed, and I'm not interested in 'looking like I'm doing the right thing'. I want to actively be involved in positive change, I believe in honest equality and that everyone deserves the same rights, and as an active feminist I understand feeling tired from explaining and as if it shouldn't need to be explained, but also like I don't want the 'wrong' person to explain when needed. There is no right answer - hence feeling stuck." (Voting Yes)
"I am a swinging voter. I support the need for a more workable system to enable indigenous issues to be effectively discussed and realistically implemented without political bias." (Voting No)
"I genuinely hope the Australian people will reach a majority 'yes' vote. There’s so much misinformation and fear mongering within the No campaign and social media. I worry that the older non-Indigenous generation still carry/hold onto racist values which has been engrained institutionally and systemically. Further, I do think that those who are voting no are gripping onto their positions of generational privilege, and can’t/won’t recognise this privilege has come by taking away from our First Nations people." (Voting Yes)
"There are so many conflicting comments from different First Nations peoples that I’m confused about what to vote. No feels wrong but I can understand the ‘progressive no’ campaign. I’m keen to see the results of this survey to get an anonymous view of what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want in the referendum." (Voting No)
"I'm scared what will occur if the 'No' vote wins, eg; more division, impact on mental health. Also I will be ashamed that I live in a country where the majority believe the 'No' vote is right." (Voting Yes)
"Representatives of the Voice should live in Aboriginal communities, not in a big city hundreds of kilometres away." (Voting Yes)
"Just want to be very clear I am not racist I have many close Indigenous Australian friends some I have grown up with my whole life. I believe a big key moving forward is education. I would love to see steps being taken to introduce our country's history in our schools. I wish there was more out there for my children to learn and understand about the land they live on." (Voting No)
"I feel for Aboriginal people being voted on like this. As a gay person I felt very uncomfortable during the debate around gay marriage with others discussing my rights and choices." (Voting Yes)