Unveiling of new St Paul’s Cathedral Banner: Listen to the Heart, Say ‘YES’ to Voice

29 July 2023

In a new initiative with the Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL), a large-scale banner on the South-West spire of St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne will be unveiled this Saturday 29 July, calling on Australians to say ‘YES’ to the Voice to Parliament. Two First Nations senior leaders of the Cathedral designed the banner: Wiradjuri man and artist The Revd Canon Uncle Glenn Loughrey and Ngarrindjeri woman The Revd Canon Helen Dwyer.

‘The Cathedral community and BSL are united in calling for a respectful debate that leads to positive change for First Peoples. We believe that saying ‘YES’ to the Constitutional Recognition and the Voice is the right start of that journey,’ said Dean of St Paul’s Andreas Loewe.

Uncle Glenn Loughrey chairs the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Congress, the Anglican equivalent of the ‘Voice’. He explains why the Voice to Parliament is so important: 

‘If you are not heard, you don’t exist. Voice was the most supported element for the four elements in the consultations for the Statement signed at Uluru. If enshrined in the constitution it recognises a process of joint, or shared, sovereignty with power. Once we’re recognised, there’s an opportunity to agree that, as both First Peoples and other Australians are here, both are to work together to live respectfully in this place. This is conciliation: a process that has never occurred in Australia’.

Uncle John Baxter, Latji Latji man and Cultural Ambassador at the Brotherhood of St. Laurence, said:

‘A ‘YES’ vote means meaningful, ongoing truth-telling to parliament. Through shared communication with the government, this important first step can be the cornerstone to creating a better future for all Australians.’

Prominently featured on the banner is Uncle Glenn Loughrey’s painting of the Birrarung/Yarra River flowing from the bay into Naarm/City of Melbourne. It invites viewers to focus on the bigger picture that Australians are being asked to decide in the upcoming referendum: embracing the process of reconciliation through Voice, Treaty, Truth-telling and Makarrata outlined in the Statement from the Heart.

Canon Helen Dwyer, a board member of the Cathedral, said:

‘The new banner points straight to the heart of the reconciliation journey: the visionary Statement agreed by First Nations elders from across Australia at Uluru in 2017. It’s from the heart of our nation that the Voice calls to work for reconciliation. At the start of that journey stands listening. We at St Paul’s and the Brotherhood of St. Laurence believe that the Voice to Parliament will enable our elected representatives to listen more carefully and attentively to what our First Peoples say’.

In February, the Cathedral Chapter, the governing body of St Paul’s, formally endorsed the Statement from the Heart and expressed its support for the Voice to Parliament. In May, the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne Reconciliation Working Group called on Anglicans and members of the wider community to support both Statement and Voice. On 25 June, the Annual General Meeting of Cathedral members endorsed both as well. In July, the Brotherhood of St Laurence joined 70+ non-for-profits organisations across Australia in calling for support of the Voice. 

The new banner will be launched on Saturday, 29 July at 11.30am in the presence of the National Aboriginal Bishop, The Rt Revd Chris McLeod (Adelaide), Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Congress, The Revd Canon Uncle Glenn Loughrey, representatives of the Anglican Deans of Australia, the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne’s Reconciliation Working Group, the Cathedral Chapter, and the Brotherhood of St Laurence. All are welcome, booking encouraged: www.trybooking.com/events/landing/1091578

The Brotherhood of St. Laurence is a social justice organisation working to prevent and alleviate poverty across Australia. Media inquiries:
Bridie Riordan M: 0491 159 256.