Australian same-sex marriage postal vote a 'waste'

Transgender indigenous group, Sistagirls, has criticised the Australian government.
Transgender indigenous group, Sistagirls, has criticised the Australian government. Photo credit: Getty

The upcoming same-sex postal vote in Australia is being described as a waste of time for indigenous communities who don't understand the process.

The Sistagirls, a group of transgender women from the Tiwi Islands off the coast of the Northern Territory are one such group.

"I think its rubbish really, they're just wasting their time," said Sistagirl Shaun Kerinaiua.

"Most of our people don't speak English, it's our second language and that goes for all Aboriginal people in Australia."

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will spend $122 million on a survey to gauge public interest in allowing same-sex marriage.

"The money should be going to bring the information [about the vote] to our people in a way that Indigenous people can understand," said Sistagirl Crystal Johnson

"The government doesn't understand, the government thinks that Aboriginal people are going to understand," many indigenous people do not speak English.

Australians have been given untill August 24 to ensure they're eligible for the Australian Electoral Commission vote, causing concern among indigenous communities.

"It's a bit frustrating that there is a website that needs to be used to register - a lot of our people are not literate, we are not up to standard education-wise, I think it's all just horrible," said Ms Kerinaiua.

The Sistagirls will be spreading the word in the community to get a yes vote.

"Crystal, myself and some of the other girls will have a rally, [we'll] put some signs up, hold group discussions and some family gatherings to spread that news and the awareness," said Ms Kerinaiua.

Traditional voting methods are more familiar to those living on the Tiwi Islands, the Sistagirls believe the vote would be much more successful if too were held this way.

"[People in our community] have to go and vote if they want a new prime minister, so I think I think they should keep [the vote on same-sex marriage] simple, especially for the remote communities," said Ms Kerinaiua.

Sistagirls are hoping for a positive outcome despite the obstacles they face.

"I'm a black queen and I have a dream, I am an LGBTIQ Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander and I have a dream to be married to a Tiwi man," Ms Johnson said.

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