Statement on the First Nations Voice to Parliament Referendum 

Content warning: Users are warned that this article may use words and descriptions that could be culturally sensitive and which might not normally be used in certain public or community contexts. This article discusses sexual violence and broader social injustices that affect Aboriginal and Torrest Strait Islander peoples. CRCC recognizes the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to tell their histories in their own voices.

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC) supports a First Nations Voice to Parliament.

On Saturday, 14 October 2023, Australians will have their say in a Referendum about whether to change the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing a body called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

CRCC supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the Australian Constitution. We believe that together we can strengthen healing and improve outcomes for Australia’s Indigenous population. Embedding a Voice in the Constitution would recognise the special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia’s history, and would provide an opportunity for First Nations communities to inform the government about matters that affect their lives, which is fundamental to improving outcomes. To this, CRCC says “YES”.

We would like to acknowledge the diversity of people in Australia and within First Nations communities, in relation to their opinions and beliefs on the First Nations Voice to Parliament Referendum. We listen respectfully and choose to communicate with intent. The board and staff at CRCC believe that a change to the Australian Constitution to recognise First Nations Peoples, is a step towards more effective results in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, which will lead to better outcomes for First Nations survivors of sexual violence.

Statement from Paula McGrady, Nguru Cultural Practitioner at CRCC

I am casting my YES vote to reach our regional and remote communities that are most affected by social disadvantages. I feel that my YES vote is most needed there, and the proposals to the Australian Constitution would allow for a better informed Voice from Aboriginal people about Aboriginal people.

We see our communities struggling, and we want to see a change for the better. National statistics show that our health outcomes, suicide rates, incarceration rates, deaths in custody, and overall life expectancy, are poorer than the rest of Australia.

Intergenerational trauma and grief is in the mind and hearts of our communities every day. Our people want better and they deserve better. This is particularly important to me considering the work I do in the sexual violence space.

We all must endeavor to create a healing place for survivors of all forms of violence and I hold hope for unity closely so that all survivors feel supported. We deserve healing when the burden of trauma overwhelms us.

As a grassroots worker in the sexual violence space, I see that we desperately need the Voice now more than ever before. Data reports (ANROWS) show us grim statistics for our First Nations people.

We want to matter to the rest of Australia, and I believe we do. We want our voices to be heard on our issues. We know our solutions, as we are the experts on what we are experiencing and how we can support our Peoples and communities. We do not want to continue seeing our young people, children, and families struggle in extreme disadvantage.

The Referendum question is about people, our people. We ask for permanent acknowledgement in our Constitution, that cannot be erased by successive Governments.We are not assigning blame to anyone today, we are asking acknowledgement of the impacts of colonisation. I can understand while Australia may be tired of hearing about our problems, but our First Nations people (we) are tired of living it.

First Nations Peoples and culture are older than federation and we are people and so much more. We are more than the events of 1788 – 1901. In 2023 let us all partake in uniting our stories in the spirit of healing and reconciliation to embrace the emerging future for all our people and communities together.

The Australian Constitution has to represent us all! Australia looks very different today, as we are diverse – beautifully diverse. Let’s celebrate a new Australia that reflects our united identity and path forward together. It is time to recognise and embrace 65,000 years of Indigenous culture for the first time in Australia’s 122-year-old Constitution, in the spirit of caring for each other, loving and reconciling Australia.

Statement from Chrystina Stanford, CEO @ CRCC

CRCC is a Feminist organisation rooted in intersectionality. Through all its waves, Feminism has always been inclusive of broader social justice issues of its time. Some of these include racism, equal pay rights, gener-based violence, child sexual assault, and more broadly, sexual and domestic violence. It is important to recognise and be accountable for the privileges certain groups hold while espousing the causes of Feminism. In saying this, Feminism has an inherent responsibility to use platforms of power to make positive influences. CRCC aims to do this. CRCC’s values are Empowerment, Leadership, Connection, Diversity and Respect. It is with these values that we take actions on broader issues in our community, and shine a light on injustice, disempowerment, discrimination and marginalization.

Our Feminist framework has allowed CRCC to operate both Nguru (support and advocacy program for First Nations victim survivors) and SAMSSA (the Service Assisting Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse) successfully for over 3 decades. CRCC is one of the very few organisations nationally, if not the only organisation in the sexual violence space, that has dedicated specialist services for men and First Nations community members. Because of this, we have a responsibility to dedicate resources to these programs, as well as to be active advocates on the issues that specifically impact First Nations Peoples and male survivors.

CRCC is proud of its longevity in the ACT community sector and its focus on members of our community that would otherwise be invisible. The Referendum for the First Nations Voice to Parliament is an opportunity for CRCC to publicly support a stronger and more sustainable voice for First Nations community members. This is why CRCC supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the Australian Constitution.

At CRCC we believe we have a responsibility to speak out against oppression and on behalf of those who cannot, or choose not to speak for themselves in relation to sexual violence. We also recognise the high levels of vulnerability of First Nations people to sexual violence. Every opportunity to reduce the prevalence rates of sexual violence crimes is crucial in our eyes, especially for a vulnerable population. The Voice Referendum is part of the above responsibility for CRCC.

The high rates of sexual violence victimisation in First Nations communities illustrates the need for more effective and culturally appropriate tools and strategies that empower communities to respond to sexual violence. 

Feminist academics laid the foundation of change in community attitudes towards sexual violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities 30 years ago. Despite this, First Nations people remain at an unchanged and increased risk of sexual violence victimisation compaired to their non-Indigenous counterparts, with girls aged 10 – 14 being the largest group impacted. It is through the support for the First Nations Voice to Parliament that we hope lasting change will also lead to a reduction of the rate of sexual violence First Nations people are living with. CRCC wholeheartedly supports this opportunity for better outcomes for First Nations survivors. We also recognise that in order to stop sexual violence impacting Australia’s Indigenous population, we need to develop more adequate ways to support and build capacity within First Nations communities to respond to sexual violence in an informed, empowered, and culturally safe manner.

Sexual violence is not an Aboriginal-only problem, but unless it is more effectively dealt with, Aboriginal women and children will continue to be victims of sexual violence (at rates 3 times higher than non-Aboriginal women) and communities will continue to suffer. The silence has been broken and tentative, but encouraging steps forward have been taken since then. This process must continue as the future of Aboriginal people depends on the success we achieve in putting a stop to the violence.

CRCC walks with First Nations survivors and communities towards a better future, and hope to continue working in partnership with local communities on First Nations-led solutions to sexual violence.

If you or someone you know needs support, reach out today.

National Support Services 


1800 RESPECT: National Domestic & Sexual Violence Support Service

Available 24/7     PH: 1800 737 732     WEB:


QLife: LGBTQIA+ peer support and referral 

Available 3pm – midnight every day     PH: 1800 184 527    WEB:


Rainbow Sexual, Domestic & Family Violence Helpline (Formerly LGBTIQ+ Violence Service)

Available 24/7     PH: 1800 497 212


MensLine Australia: 24/7 online counselling support for men

Available: 24/7     PH: 1300 78 99 78     WEB:


Kids Helpline 

Available 24/7     PH: 1800 55 1800     WEB:


13Yarn: Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander crisis support service

Available: 24/7     PH: 13 92 76     WEB:

State & Territory Support Services 


ACT: Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 

Available 7am – 11pm every day 

PH: (02) 6274 2525     WEB:


Queensland: Statewide Sexual Assault Helpline 

Available 7.30am – 11.30pm every day

PH: 1800 737 732     WEB: click here for more QLD services  


NSW: Statewide Sexual Violence Helpline 

Available 24/7   PH: 1800 424 017    WEB: click here for more NSW services 


Victoria: Sexual Assault Crisis Line 

Available 5pm weeknights through to 9am the next day and throughout weekends and public holidays     PH: 1800 806 292

WEB: click here for more VIC services 


Northern Territory: Sexual Assault Referral Centre – Darwin 

Available: 24/7     PH: 08 8922 6472     WEB: click here for more NT services

Western Australia: Sexual Assault Resource Centre

Available 24/7     PH: 1800 199 888     WEB: click here for more WA services 


Tasmania: Sexual Assault Support Service 

Available 24/7     PH: 1800 697 877     WEB: click here for more TAS services 


South Australia: Yarrow Place – Rape and Sexual Assault Service 

Available 24/7     PH: 1800 817 421     WEB: click here for more SA services