Timothy Murragilli wants Yalata, on South Australia’s far west coast, to be represented in the state’s inaugural First Nations Voice to Parliament.

The Anangu father has already cast an early vote in the SA Voice election, ahead of polling day on Saturday, March 16.

“We’re the only state in Australia that’s going to have a Voice in parliament and I hope that we get a voice from Yalata in there,” he said.

“People that live in community and see what happens on community have got more perspective.

“Housing, drainage, roads, crowded houses – that all needs to be fixed.”

About five residents from Yalata, a predominantly Indigenous community about 1,000 kilometres west of Adelaide, have put their hands up to run for election.

They are contesting seven seats on the West and West Coast Local Voice – one of six local regional areas across the state.

Electoral officers set up a polling booth at Yalata.(ABC News: Stephanie Richards.)

Two representatives from each of the six regional areas will then be appointed to sit on the state Voice, tasked with providing advice to South Australia’s government and parliament on issues impacting First Nations people.

This week, a steady stream of Yalata locals gathered to cast votes at a mobile polling booth set up in the centre of town.

One of those was Russell Bryant, who said it was important for people of all ages to be elected to the Voice.

“We want people to be there with the Voice and talk about things for our community, for our people, for our young children and for elders,” he said.

“We have to work together as one big family.”

‘Country people’ needed on SA Voice

More than 600 kilometres away in Port Lincoln, Barngarla man Travis Nash said he planned to vote for several candidates from his Eyre Peninsula community.

Mr Nash’s mother grew up on an Aboriginal reserve near Port Lincoln, while his non-Indigenous father experienced discrimination after marrying an Aboriginal woman.

He said he believed the Voice could create “significant” change, ensuring local First Nations people’s voices were heard and respected.

“When it comes to stuff like this, it’s always people from Adelaide, or from the bigger cities … and those people have been raised in the city and they make decisions for people in the country,” Mr Nash said.

Barngarla man Travis Nash shared his hopes for the Voice. (ABC News: Stephanie Richards)

“It’s really good to see we’re going to be having country people representing country people, because our cultures are a lot different.

“At least the people that will be appointed will be my neighbour, in a way, instead of going to Adelaide and when I talk to people, they’re in suits and expensive shoes.”

In Adelaide, Kamellia Forbes put in an early vote at the Port Adelaide polling centre.

She said it was important for the SA Voice to have a balance of younger and older representatives, as well as male and female appointees.

Early voting in SA’s Voice elections is underway across the state, including Port Lincoln.(ABC News: Stephanie Richards)

“We need community voices to talk about what needs to happen for me and for my kids when they grow up,” she said.

“We face challenges daily, especially in the workplace and within government, so I think this Voice is something that’s well and truly needed.”

About 30,000 people eligible to vote in SA Voice election

According to the SA Electoral Commission, about 30,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander South Australians are eligible to vote in the Voice election.

Based on past voting trends, the commission estimated up to 30 per cent of those would vote early or do a postal vote.

Voting is voluntary and only open to enrolled First Nations voters in the state.

“Our job really is to make sure that everyone who’s eligible to vote now actually has the opportunity to have their say,” SA Electoral Commission communications director James Trebilcock said.

“We’re into that final phase (of the election) and it’s running really well.”

Voting will close at 6pm on March 16. 

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