RANZCP supports the ‘YES’ campaign for Voice to Parliament
1 Jun 2023
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) is backing the ‘YES’ campaign to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Australian Constitution.
People are at the heart of our work. Psychiatrists have a professional as well as a moral and social obligation to comment on social practices and policies which are harmful to mental health.
As psychiatrists, we are acutely aware of the trauma inflicted on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples due to the ongoing impact of colonisation, dispossession, and systemic racism and inequality. This has a profound and ongoing impact on the lives and mental health of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country.
The term social and emotional wellbeing is used by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to describe the social, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing of a person.
Health and healing is inherently relational, and inextricably linked to family, community, and Country. It speaks to connection and unity.
Just as person-centred care is the foundation of mental health care, self-determination is critical for better mental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The establishment of a First Nations Voice to Parliament would be a significant step towards ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ voices are centred in the laws, policies, and programs that affect their lives.
Self-determination is only one part of the overall healing process, yet it is an essential part, and one that cannot be underestimated.
RANZCP is committed to working closely with First Nations communities to ensure their voices are heard, and their rights are upheld.
For more information, please see RANZCP’s position statement on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution.
Quotes attributable to:
RANZCP President, Dr Elizabeth Moore:
“The importance of self-determination cannot be underestimated. Being heard, listened to and respected is vital to our mental health.
“The Voice to Parliament is about centring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in the decisions and policies that affect them.”
Professor Helen Milroy OAM, Australia’s first Indigenous doctor, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UWA, Honorary Research Fellow at Telethon Kids Institute and a Commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission:
“The wounds and the trauma of generations of inequality, discrimination and racism run deep. To heal, we must be heard.
“A First Nations Voice to Parliament protected by the Constitution is a critical and powerful step forward for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We must take a step forward as a nation.”
Dr Simone Raye, President of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association:
“Every day our doctors witness the health disparity at play. A Voice to Parliament is an opportunity we can’t miss.
“This will ensure that Indigenous perspectives are formally considered on policies that impact Indigenous peoples lives.”
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The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments and other groups on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit www.ranzcp.org.
In Aotearoa New Zealand: If you or someone you know needs help, 1737 is here to help, for free - Mental Health. You can also contact Lifeline NZ on 0800 543 354 or www.lifeline.org.nz or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 or www.lifeline.org.nz/suicide-prevention.
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