A prominent Indigenous activist has powerfully responded to an outspoken MAFS star’s controversial clip debating the Voice.
Former Married At First Sight star Vanessa Romito, who appeared on the show in 2020, stirred up controversy on her TikTok page earlier this week after sharing her opinion on the upcoming Voice referendum vote.
The 34-year-old from Perth expressed her confusion with the Voice to Parliament and asked why she should have to vote on something that she has “nothing to do with” and which will “not affect” her.
“Okay, so let’s talk about it, 14th of October, we all have to vote right?” she begins the clip.
“The thing is, I don’t understand why. Why on earth are we voting on something that has nothing to do with us and something that will not affect us, like, directly.
“Let me unpack. I was really confused with what the hell I was voting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to. And look, I think if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“I didn’t feel comfortable voting on something that I knew nothing about. So I asked a few people, a few friends that are Indigenous.
“Obviously this affects them. Every single person that I’ve spoke to, who this impacts, doesn’t want it.
“They said, we didn’t want this and we don’t want you to vote yes. And when I delved into it and asked why, they said it makes no f**king sense why they’re pushing it so hard.”
“I think there are a few people that might want this, but I don’t think it is the community that it is going to affect.
“I think a lot of people are just confused as f**k, because the TV is making out that this is the best thing since sliced bread.
“If you actually asked someone who this directly affects, they don’t want it, like at all. I think they’re the only ones we should be listening to.”
Vanessa’s video was met with a barrage of different opinions, with some slamming her as being “ignorant” and telling her to “educate” herself before speaking out.
“Wow, this is so ignorant,” one user commented.
“80 per cent of Indigenous people want it. Educate yourself before you make unsubstantiated claims.”
“I don’t think your few mates can be considered a good sample of Indigenous voices,” another said.
“They literally asked for this in the Uluru statement.”
A day after Vanessa posted her video, Indigenous activist and university professor Braden Hill shared his opinion on her controversial clip.
Braden, a Nyungar (Wardandi) man, is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students, Equity and Indigenous) at Perth’s Edith Cowan University.
In a bizarre twist, Braden and Vanessa also went to high school together.
“Wow, Perth is way too small,” Professor Hill started the video.
“Hi Vanessa. Me and Vanessa actually went to high school together.
“Now there are plenty of Aboriginal people who don’t know about the Voice, or don’t support the Voice, and don’t feel like they’ve been included in it.
“I guess, in my family I feel like I’m the one who is into politics and who pays attention to stuff. And if you were to ask my brother, ‘Hey what do you think of the Voice to Parliament?’ he would say ‘Oh I don’t know, ask Braden, he pays attention to that stuff’.
“Everyone has a family member or a friend like that. Aboriginal people are no different, we have diverse views and understandings of these kinds of things.
“But the important thing is to pay attention to the evidence. We know that there are two polls, that point out 80 per cent and 83 per cent of Indigenous people supporting the Voice to parliament idea.”
“Beyond that, this is an idea that comes from Indigenous people themselves.
“We’ve had 13 dialogues across the country, involving 1,200 Aboriginal people in the process, to eventually settle on the idea of the Voice to Parliament being something that people agree on as a way of recognising Indigenous people in the constitution.
“Finally at Uluru, we had 250 Indigenous leaders and community members who endorse the Uluru statement which called for a Voice to Parliament.
“These people are leaders and Elders in their community, they are on the ground.”
He went on to explain that there have been many big organisations – who represent and support Indigenous people – who state that a Voice to Parliament will make a big difference.
“There might be people in our social circle who might not know, or might not feel supportive of it,” he explained.
“But what is the evidence telling us? By all means, listen to your mate. But I think 83 per cent, and the hundreds if not thousands of Indigenous people involved in these conversations and this idea, that is who we should be paying attention to when we cast our vote.”
Following Professor Hill’s response video, Vanessa made another clip where she thanked him for explaining the issue in a way she could easily understand.
“Go watch his video, he articulates it so well,” she said.
“This is all I think we want in this world. Someone to just point out the facts.
“It was so well done and simply explained.”
Professor Hill commented on Vanessa’s follow up clip and thanked her for offering people a space to talk about the issues.
“Thank you for starting the discussion, I really appreciate chatting with you about it,” he wrote.
“I am sorry people went after you for sharing your view.”