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Queensland Field Campaign launched

22 Mar, 2017

RECOGNISE has launched its volunteer-driven Field Campaign in the Queensland, with Gugu-Badhun, Ngadjon-ji, and Meriam man Ben Gertz announced as the QLD Field Leader.

"RECOGNISE has launched its volunteer-driven Field Campaign, to co-ordinate and train thousands of volunteers around the country to spread the word about getting recognition in and racism out of the Constitution.

Ben Gertz, a Gugu-Badhun, Ngadjon-ji and Meriam man from Northern Queensland and the Torres Strait will lead the Queensland campaign. Ben Gertz comes from a long line of activists. His great grandfather Richard (Dick) Hoolihan played a key role in campaigning for the historic 1967 referendum, when more than 90% of Australians voted YES for equality. Ben is planning to stand at the very same polling booth his great grandfather stood at 50 years ago handing out how to vote cards, when the referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution is held.

“Constitutional recognition is the right thing to do. We do things like welcome to country, acknowledgement to country, our education curriculum is starting to incorporate more Indigenous knowledge, yet there’s a massive silence in our country’s founding document,” Ben said.

“It’s about recognising not just myself as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person, but recognising my mob, whether it be Gugu-Badhun, Ngadjon-ji or Meriam, it’s about my family being recognised. Being given the opportunity to work on the campaign to make it happen is a dream come true for me.”

Ben will be attending many community events across Queensland. He’ll also be running information sessions and looking for new volunteers to help raise awareness about constitutional reform. RECOGNISE Joint Campaign Director Mark Yettica-Paulson said talking about changing the Constitution is important work that will help the nation take the next step in the journey to reconciliation.

“This will be the first referendum in the digital age, which creates challenges and opportunities. “Even with all the information available online, there’s no substitute for neighbours talking to neighbours and for local leaders bringing communities together and people getting informed.

“That’s why RECOGNISE is launching its national Field Campaign to recruit, train and support thousands of volunteers to have conversations in workplaces, at sporting matches, shopping centres, schools and community events. Along with Ben in the Queensland, Recognise has Field Leaders in the Northern Territory, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.

“Together they’ll be aiming to have one million one-on-one conversations with everyday Australians. “The aim of these conversations is to provide as much information as possible about the upcoming referendum to ensure it reflects the will of engaged and informed people.”

Mr Yettica-Paulson said in May this year the nation will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 referendum where more than 90% of Australians voted “YES” to equality. “The ’67 campaigners pounded the pavement, bussed, walked, baked and talked their way around Australia to drive home their unifying message for change. “It’s 2017 and now is the time for our generation to do that again.”