I have avoided writing about the Voice referendum (not to be confused with the reality TV show, of course), because I've learned that such discussions generally cause arguments that inevitably descend into fairly unpleasant exchanges.
But, watching the commercialisation of campaigning has raised an interesting issue from a careers perspective, and that is something I can write about: what is the impact of big business actively supporting the "yes" campaign?
Traditionally, business hedges their bets. With a practised hand, they take calculated risks, treating every decision like a business risk decision, even making campaign donations to both sides of the aisle (don't get me started on that) so they have reach no matter who wins.
But, over recent years, we've seen business - especially big business - take public stands on social and even political issues that divide our community, planting their business shoes firmly on one side of the various arguments.
From climate change, to marriage equality, to the First Nations Voice, business is no longer satisfied with making uber dollars. Or are they? I can't help but think that business leadership has not just been transformed into a sensitive, caring, community-focused enterprise overnight. There's got to be more to it.
Companies have realised that taking a stand can really serve their purpose, whether it's diverting people's attention from something they don't want them talking about, increasing their free advertising through media coverage of their business-activism, or pre-empting social issues and ensuring their business strategy is proactive in addressing concerns before mole hills become mountains ... at the end of the day, it's all about money.
Some of our biggest retailers, banks, insurance companies, telcos, super funds and even mining companies such as BHP and Rio Tinto have joined the ranks of corporate Australia supporting the "yes" vote, but if feels like the more the top end of town rallies its support, the less momentum the polls indicate their efforts have yielded. At least, the less momentum achieved in their direction.
Opposition Leader, Peter Dutton, has claimed that these big corporates are "craving popularity" and are "trying to please the people in the Twittersphere". I am as shocked as you are to find that I think he might be onto something there, given the impact that the mining giants have had on West Australian Aboriginal heritage: they literally blew up the 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge caves! Surely their "yes" campaign is the worst kind of virtue-signalling?
At the end of the day, this is all just noise. The marketing (dare I say propaganda) on both sides has been fraught with misrepresentation and divisiveness, and has resulted in extraneous polarising distraction from the actual issue that we are meant to be considering.
Afterall, the concept of having an Aboriginal advisory body to Parliament is hardly new. We've seen countless iterations of such a thing since 1962, with varying levels of efficacy and a history of being administratively abolished based on political agenda.
Perhaps the biggest barrier the "yes" vote faces is that people are getting wrapped up in the detail of the actual form and function of the advisory group, if Australia votes "yes". That's not what this referendum is about.
The only thing we have to decide on October 14 is whether we think that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have a voice in matters that affect them.
That's it. That's the question.
If Australia votes "yes", then the form and function of the body will be developed through the usual legislative process, and I have no doubt there will be plenty to say about what it will actually look like when that time comes.
One thing is for absolute certain: when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to be 10 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous Australians, their life expectancy is up to 8.6 years less, and they generally experience lower standards of housing, employment, education and health, despite prior attempts to address these issues, something has to change.
What a "yes" vote really means is that the constitution will provide enduring recognition and protection for the First Nations advisory body from being abolished on political whim.
Everything else can evolve legislatively as needs change.
The referendum is an opportunity for us as a nation to lift the mantle of imposed paternalism and
create a shared vision of our future for the land we all call home.
- Zoë Wundenberg is a careers consultant and un/employment advocate at impressability.com.au, and a regular columnist for ACM.