We, as unionists, know how hard it is to win change on a large scale.

And unfortunately, in this referendum, the result did not go our way.

Add your message of hope and solidarity to the “Solidarity Always” book that will be delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

This referendum was lost on April 5th when Peter Dutton and the Liberal Party chose to lead a divisive No campaign instead of giving bipartisan support for a simple change that would have made Australia better. They chose politics over progress.

Despite this, more than five million people turn out this weekend to vote YES to advancing the rights of First Nations people, and tens of thousands were active in the campaign to back Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Together, we say: we stand with you. You are not alone. And we will continue to fight alongside you for justice and equality.

We must remember that this vote is not the end – our fight for justice and equality for First peoples was going to continue, regardless of the result.

In 2017, the Uluru Statement from the Heart invited all Australians to walk together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for a better future.

The union movement responded with YES – YES to listening, YES to recognition of over 65,000 years of continuous culture and YES to the call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Most of all, union members across the country said YES to stepping up and doing what we do best: giving everything we’ve got at driving positive change that will improve the lives of Australians.

In workplaces, on the streets, attending training, making phone calls, knocking on doors, and handing out at polling booths and train stations – unionists campaigned relentlessly. Because we knew what was at stake, and how hard it is to win change on this scale.

Our movement is so lucky to have the strength and vision of so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members, communities and elders. It’s an honour to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with such courageous, resilient comrades.

There isn't a vote, or a moment in time – and certainly not a person or political party – that can extinguish the vast history, or the ancestral ties to land, culture and traditions, of this nation’s First peoples.

Our greatest strength – solidarity – is how we turn today’s outcome into hope and action.

I invite you to share your messages of support with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

And then tomorrow – just as we do every day – we get back to work, fighting for equality and justice for all.

In unity,

Sally McManus
ACTU Secretary