I came to Australia many years ago but have always retained my Greek identity. I am proud of my Greek heritage, and I am proud of this country.
I have worked hard, and Australia has been good to me. I am sure that my children, my grandchildren, and each generation that follows will have better lives.
Unfortunately, it has not been the same for Indigenous Australians who were here many thousands of years before any of us arrived.
It has not always been easy for me and for many migrants. I know what it is like to experience prejudice and face barriers because of my culture.
I was never told by the government where I could live, or who I could marry. Nobody stopped me from owning a business and buying land. No one ever stopped me from going to the local swimming pool or the cinema because of my race.
Nobody took my children from me, and sent them out to work for strangers, where they were often abused but this happened to Indigenous people for many years, during my lifetime and yours.
The damage this caused is why many Indigenous people have poor health, education and employment levels.
Governments alone cannot fix this problem. They need to have Indigenous people involved in creating programs and services that work best for them. Indigenous people living in their own communities know what works.
In the past, there have been advisory committees that have been able to give the right advice to governments, and things began to improve. But each time a government with a different political viewpoint came to power, the committees were abandoned, and things went back to how they were before for Indigenous people.
We need to change this situation, and we can. What Indigenous people are asking for now and what we will vote for at the Referendum on October 14 is very simple.
First: The right to be recognised in the Australian Constitution as the First people of Australia. This is a fact. They are the first Australians.
Second: An Advisory Committee (a Voice) to be created that different governments cannot remove because of their political agendas.
This committee is going to be OK with me in my daily life. It doesn’t have the power to make laws or increase taxes. However, it can advise the government on decisions and programs that improve the lives of Indigenous people and their children’s futures. That is all it is.
All the other things we hear are rumours that confuse us and make us afraid.
This Referendum should not be about politics – it should be about human decency and the right for each of us to live a healthy, productive life.
For me, it is clear. I want my country to be better – not just for my children and grandchildren – but for everyone’s. That is why I am voting yes on October 14.
We can and we must do better.