Australian of the Year Local Hero award winner Amar Singh is setting off on a two-month tour of the country to promote a “Yes” vote for the Voice campaign.
Mr Singh will be starting his trip from NSW Parliament House on Tuesday in a bid to raise awareness among culturally-diverse communities.
He is concerned that some ethnic minority people will think the issue doesn’t concern them.
“I will be reaching out to some of the multicultural religious communities to encourage them to vote Yes, and of course, people can vote No, that’s the whole point of a referendum,” Mr Singh said.
“But this is about encouraging multicultural Australians and recent arrivals to take part in a very democratic process.
“Because many of us come from countries where political opinion is not permitted or allowed or there‘s consequences for it.”
Mr Singh’s trip is self-funded and not part of his official Australian of the Year or Turbans 4 Australia duties.
Mr Singh knows first-hand about racism. He migrated to Australia from India as a 15 year old in 1998 and began practising his religion and wearing a turban in 2004.
The turban he wears as a Sikh brought racist abuse on him, and others in the community.
The abuse galvanised him to make a difference through food and decided to start charity Turbans 4 Australia in 2015.
Each week, he leads an army of volunteers to deliver up to 450 food and grocery hampers to those experiencing food insecurity, homelessness, domestic violence, poverty, unemployment and isolation.
And as he tours in his Mercedes van, his big message to Australians is to consider the debate properly.
“For me on a personal level, I want to see society being better and displaying more equality. As someone from a multicultural background, I do stand up for my rights and for my people,” he said.
“So this voting will be to say Indigenous people have suffered and this is something that will make them better, or part of their lives better.
“Many years ago, Kevin Rudd gave a national apology to the Stolen Generations and we didn’t lose as a nation, we only got better.
“It’s up to us the people to stand up and make a difference. This might be a start for a new journey, but it’s certainly not going to send us backwards.”
It comes as the Yes23 and No teams have ramped up campaigning operations ahead of next week’s Garma festival and amid rising expectations the Prime Minister is preparing a referendum date in October following the AFL and NRL grand finals.
The Australian’s Newspoll published this month revealed falling support for a constitutionally enshrined voice. The survey of 1570 voters showed 48 per cent of Australians would vote no, compared with 41 per cent who pledged support for Labor’s constitutional amendment.
However, the Yes23 campaign remains confident that it can swing soft No votes and secure backing from Australians who are undecided on how they will vote at the referendum.
Mr Singh will be crowdsourcing to help fund his trip. For more information, visit his GoFundMe page.
Originally published as Co-founder of Turbans4Australia Amar Singh joins the ‘Yes’ campaign on the Voice