Black and White Stories invited individuals from across the country to contribute their thoughts about the historic referendum to be held on 14 October 2023.

The referendum asks the citizens of Australia whether the Constitution should be altered to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

Introducing the guests

People interviewed for the Voices on The Voice podcast.

Some of the people who were interviewed for the podcast. From top left: Rick Hanlon, Ming Long, Tanya Hosch, Lorri Williams, Thomas Mayo, and Dr Anthony Dillon.

Solomon Booth had to take our call on his mobile, because the Internet service where he lives is unstable. Solomon is from a community of fewer than 500 people scattered between Kubin and St Pauls on Moa Island in the Torres Strait where the Mualgal (pron: /muwal̪gal̪/) people are the traditional owners. Moa Island is one of the northern-most parts of our country.

Dr Anthony Dillon, Postdoctoral Fellow, Indigenous Thriving Program at the Australian Catholic University in Sydney, identifies as both Aboriginal and Australian. He is currently a researcher with the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education. Dr. Dillon strongly believes that the only way we will ‘Close the Gap’ between disadvantaged Indigenous Australians and the rest of the population is by ensuring that all Indigenous people have access to the opportunities that most Australians take for granted.

Rick Hanlon, OAM is General Manager, AFL Cape York Ltd. Originally from Tasmania, Rick has worked in Australian Football League (AFL) game development for over 25 years and was instrumental in establishing AFL Cape York House for Boys (2013) and AFL Cape York House for Girls (2018). The Houses support and provide opportunities in a safe and supportive boarding environment for Indigenous secondary students as they navigate high school. Rick has changed the lives of countless young Indigenous people through football and, perhaps even more importantly, through education, health, and opportunity. In 2017, Rick was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Tanya Hosch is an AFL Legend; she was the first Indigenous person appointed to an AFL executive position and has been the Executive General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy for this national sporting body since 2016. A Torres Strait Islander woman, Tanya managed Reconciliation Australia’s Recognise campaign and was a member of the Referendum Council leading the process that culminated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. In 2021 she was named 2021 SA Australian of the Year. Circus Oz, Australian Film Television and Radio School, the Adelaide Festival, and NAB are some of the organisations currently benefiting from her guidance.

Ming Long, AM, Chair of the Diversity Council of Australia Board, is the first woman with an Asian heritage to lead an ASX-100 or 200 listed entity in Australia. Ming was appointed to the Board of Telstra as a non-executive Director in 2023. Together with Nora Scheinkestel, she organised Directors for the Voice after hearing other business leaders discussing strong feelings around the Voice. In 2020, Ming was named a Member of the Order of Australia for significant contribution to the financial and real estate sectors and to diversity and inclusion.

Thomas Mayo is Assistant National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). Thomas is a signatory of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for constitutional recognition and establishment of the Voice to Parliament, and has been a leading advocate since its inception in May 2017. He is the Chairperson of the Northern Territory Indigenous Labor Network and a director on the Australians for Indigenous Constitutional Recognition board. Thomas is the author of five books and he co-authored The Voice to Parliament Handbook with acclaimed Australian journalist, Kerry O’Brien.

Pauline L (Lorri) Williams is a semi-retired accountant who has spent most of her adult life training and working with Indigenous people in the Kimberley, the Northern Territory, Far North Queensland, and the Torres Strait. Through Lorri’s training, countless women and men have been able to enhance their lives by developing business and administrative skills. Lorri was schooled through School of the Air as there were no schools in Kununurra in the 1950’s. She leter attended boarding school in Perth where she represented the State in hockey and swimming. Lorri has also been a life long volunteer giving 40 years service to St John Ambulance and Brigade, as well as Yorkeys Knob Residents Association, Yorkeys Knob Boating Club, and North Queensland Animal Rescue.

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