Jen Bray

As a representative for my own local community, I know how important it is that local views are heard and considered when governments make decisions that impact all of us. So it was wonderful to see the efforts of our community to make a change, finally come to fruition last week.

It was very moving to attend the special event on 18 July to celebrate bringing traditional aboriginal language back to country with the re-naming ceremony of our local creek near Franklinford – Larni Barramal Yaluk.
Over ten years ago, local community members petitioned council to change the racist name of Jim Crow Creek, and last week the signs with the new name went up and a large gathering of local aboriginal people, community, shire staff, councillors and government officials welcomed the change.

Larni Barramal Yaluk means “the moving waters near the home of the Emu.” Djaara CEO Rodney Carter made the point that by recognising this name we are adding to our rich Australian culture, not taking anything away. And by listening to language, listening to country and giving our Aboriginal People a voice, we are making our Australian culture richer and fairer for all.

And so, with the Referendum of the First Nations Voice to Parliament coming closer, I reflect on why a Voice might be needed.

There is a Gap in our Australian culture, whether we are aware of it or not. Compared to non-indigenous people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience:

  • Lower life expectancy and poorer infant health
  • Lower levels of education and employment
  • Higher levels of incarceration for young people and adults
  • Significant issues with housing and domestic violence

We do not all start on the same level, and we do not all have the same opportunities.

There have been many government initiatives that have tried to Close the Gap over the years, but as the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon. Linda Burney stated in her Press Club speech these initiatives are simply not working with only four of the nineteen goals on track. Something needs to change.

In 2017 the Uluru Statement from the Heart was a petition by Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to the Australian Government which called for a First Nations Voice to Parliament. It states:

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

In 2022, Hepburn Shire Council voted to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

In late 2023, Australians will have their say in a referendum on whether to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia in the Constitution through an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

The Voice will be an independent, representative body for First Nations peoples.

  • It would advise the Australian Parliament and the Government.
  • It would give First Nations peoples a say on matters that affect them.

As local communities we know the value of the chance to have a say in our local affairs. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are seeking a chance to end the “torment of powerlessness”.

For more information about the Referendum go to:


Councillor Jen Bray is a Daylesford resident and an elected Councillor for Birch Ward. 

Councillor Columns are a regular feature in The Wombat Post. We offer these spaces as an information channel from Council to the community. Councillor Columns are not subject to editorial review by our editorial committee but are published as we receive them from our elected Councillors.