My statement on the Uluṟu Statement from the Heart and the Voice to Parliament
By Dean Ormston
Over the last few weeks, I have frequently been asked about my position in relation to the Referendum and the Voice to Parliament.
I will be voting Yes.
I know the public discussion on the Referendum has taken a toll on APRA AMCOS’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and I commit to ensuring that APRA AMCOS remains a safe and inclusive space: a space robust enough to hold the full and rich diversity of their aspirations and perspectives.
On 14 October, all of us will be faced with a question on a ballot paper.
Organisations don’t get to vote at the Referendum. Organisations don’t decide who we are as a Nation: that rests with individuals like you and me and how we choose to vote.
For me, ‘Yes’ is a personal commitment as part of a national opportunity for listening, learning and discussion − a commitment to see and hear all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' perspectives.
My experience of listening, learning and discussion has been defined over the years by the generous counsel Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members have given me. More recently it has been shaped by the establishment of the Indigenous-led National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Office (NATSIMO), and the extraordinary leadership of Leah Flanagan, its Director, who has encouraged me and the entire company to be sensitive to the lived experiences that have given rise to differing opinions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when it comes to the Voice.
For me, ‘Yes’ is an opportunity to move forward. It is not a promise of perfection; it is a commitment to listen and learn from all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples. I believe the Voice to Parliament extends on that commitment.
While I have learned a lot over these years, I am conscious of how much further we still have to go − as an organisation, as an industry, as a nation. The right to create means nothing without the capability to shape how that creation can exist in the world. It is what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island songwriters and music creators have always sought: self-expression, agency, ownership of their way forward.
I believe that a Yes Vote aligns with the work I do and the vision I have for APRA AMCOS to empower and enable all members by embedding opportunity, accountability, and community. Crucially, I hope that it builds trust and a real commitment for the nation to listen and learn from the First Peoples of Australia, and as the first and oldest continuous custodians of music, songwriting, community, and culture in the world.
Dean Ormston, CEO APRA AMCOS is a signatory of Music For The Voice.
For more information, you can visit NITV and voice.gov.au