Contrary to the patronising comments I keep hearing in parliament, Aboriginal people in the Parkes electorate are not helpless or hopeless – they are achieving great things.

I wanted to emphasise this in a speech I made recently, with examples from communities in my electorate. Positive change in communities comes from the grass-roots, not the top down.

I’m a great advocate for focusing on our strengths, and where Aboriginal constituents in the Parkes electorate are concerned, there are many, and I want to acknowledge and celebrate that.

We need to acknowledge and celebrate too, the representation we have in parliament and many local governments by Aboriginal leaders who have been democratically elected under our current systems by people of all backgrounds.

As the polls open, I encourage everyone to turn up and make your vote count for what will be an historic Referendum.

Mark Coulton, Federal Member for Parkes

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