Our Voice, Our Heart to premiere ahead of Voice Referendum

A new documentary seeking answers on the Voice will have its world premiere at the Darwin International Film Festival this month.

A new Australian documentary, Our Voice, Our Heart, will enjoy its world premiere at the Darwin International Film Festival (DIFF) this month.

The documentary follows two Darwin locals – Tiwi man Jaxon De Santis and Warlpiri/Jawoyn man Justin Grant – who realise that, if they have no idea what the Voice to Parliament means to them and their community, how are millions of Australians going to know? 

Viewers will follow their journey for answers, as they talk to Elders, Leaders, community members and family from communities in Nhulunbuy, Tiwi, Kalkarindji, Kakadu & Gunbalanya. 

Inspired by the knowledge gap between urban Australians and remote Communities ahead of the referendum, and acknowledging the Northern Territory will be statistically insignificant in the final count, Our Voice, Our Heart is being pitched as a platform to listen to some of the people most affected, but whose votes will not carry weight in the tally. 

The Australian Constitution can only be changed with the support of the majority of Australian voters and a majority of voters in a majority of states (at least four). As it’s not a state, the Northern Territory will not be counted as one in the referendum, and with a population of approximately 250,400 people, it represents only around 1% of the Australian population.

Our Voice, Our Heart is produced and co-directed by Trade Creative’s Laurens Goud, co-directed and co-produced by Justin Grant, who also serves as the production’s Indigenous Consultant, and co-produced by Jaxon De Santis. 

Grant said: ‘So many people are asking me how I am going to vote in the Referendum, and I have nothing to say. If I don’t know, how are the millions of Australians living in the cities going to know how to vote?’

Producer and co-director Laurens Goud said: ‘We are starting from a position that it’s OK to not understand enough to have a perspective on the Referendum. We want to invite the audience on a journey to listen and learn more, to help in making this important decision, just as Justin and Jaxon will.

‘We particularly want to bridge the gap between what is thought, known and understood in majority non-Indigenous Australian states, and the significant Indigenous population in the Northern Territory who will be most affected.’

The Indigenous population in the NT is 32.2%, compared to 2.8% for the rest of Australia.

‘The real impact here is to inspire courage in all Australians to seek answers to their questions,’ said Goud. ‘If they are unsure of something – now is the time to find that answer, be open to learning, understanding and forming a position. We can do that by respectfully engaging with the people and the opinions around us. This is our responsibility, to take this seriously. To understand your vote means and to choose a path we best believe in.’

Our Voice, Our Heart, will have its world premiere at the Darwin International Film Festival with a gala screening event on Sunday 17 September, followed by a Q&A. Find out more.

Paul Dalgarno is author of the novels A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); the memoir And You May Find Yourself (2015); and the creative non-fiction book Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. X: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @dalgarnowrites