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Yarning Circles ‘complete the puzzle’ around the Voice

The Salvation Army Territorial Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team backing the Voice – (from left) Terrence Whyte, Lucy Davis, Chris Congoo, Shirli Congoo and Sue Hodges.


Interest is so high in understanding the Voice that The Salvation Army in Australia has added 11 extra Yarning Circle sessions to the end of September.

The Yarning Circles were created to provide reliable information and a chance to discuss questions relating to the upcoming Voice referendum on 14 October. Over 13 sessions had been facilitated by the end of August.

“We aren’t here to tell people how to vote or argue a point, but to provide extra information and context,” said Jennifer Kirkaldy, General Manager, Policy and Advocacy. “Participants are finding this approach helps make the referendum not so scary.”

The Yarning Circles are designed to clarify The Salvation Army’s position on the Voice because of early confusion, address misinformation, and bring people to the table. They are facilitated online by Jennifer and Lucy Davis, a proud Cobble Cobble woman and Reconciliation Action Plan and Projects Manager.

“People appreciate being able to talk things through without judgment,” Jennifer said. “Participants have been respectful, engaging, asked good questions, take it seriously and enjoyed a grace-filled space.”

In a recent ABC interview, Tom Rogers, Commissioner of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), stated that some of the online misinformation and disinformation about the referendum process had been “bonkers”.

“Joining the Yarning Circle really consolidated a lot of information and completed the puzzle for me,” said one participant. “It was really grounding and encouraging to see the support there.”

Typical topics include different forms of recognition of First Nations people, design principles behind the Uluru Statement of the Heart and referendum, why Voice before treaty, different Aboriginal opinions, what the Voice might look like, government decision-making processes, and legal ramifications to a yes vote.

“My hope is that I make people comfortable enough with me to ask any question,” Lucy said. “I am aware that some people don’t understand what difference the Voice will make for our people, what it will be, and what the referendum is trying to achieve. People get so disheartened by being hoodwinked.”

Lucy and Jen suggest everyone read reputable sources of information such as:

“The faith-based community in Australia holds a big vote,” said Lucy. “So, we want them to come out in strength and follow Jesus’s example of walking with the vulnerable.”

As well as the Salvo Yarning Circles, Lucy is taking the discussion to community groups in Queensland, even those groups who are unsure of how to vote or likely to vote no.

“It’s really hard being a black fella in this space, and it’s quite tiring,” Lucy said. “But I don’t want to wake up on the Sunday after the referendum and think about what more I could have done.”

Salvos can participate in one of the remaining Yarning Circles at


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