Acclaimed journalist Stan Grant has lamented the rejection of the voice to parliament referendum, saying the nation failed to "shoulder the load" of Indigenous Australians.
In his first public comments since the referendum result, Professor Grant said the 'no' vote was a "judgment on me and all the others like me", along with generations of Indigenous people.
The comments came during an address at the Australian National University's Crawford Leadership Forum, where the Indigenous journalist reflected on the referendum outcome.
"The voice was never about resentment, it was never about identity - it was a release, it was a moment to lay our burdens down," Prof Grant said.
"But Australia would not shoulder that load.
"Instead, we got a lecture about unity.
"Those who own history claimed for themselves history's final word: 'no'."
The former host of Q+A, who resigned from the ABC following abuse on social media, said any hopes for a different Australia would not be seen during his lifetime.
"We have laid the sod over (my ancestors), sealed them in," he said.
"I thought in me they may be able to speak, that those two sides of me might find a common voice.
"But we said 'no' to that.
"My country has buried my ancestors for a second time.
"I am hearing the cold-hearted 'no' of a country so comfortable it need not care.
"A country that feels, right now, soulless.
"A country of numbers, and no words but one: 'no'."
Every state and territory except the ACT voted against the constitutional change to enshrine an Indigenous voice to parliament and executive government.
With the final referendum tally expected within days, official figures show 60.1 per cent of voters said no to the constitutional reform.
The Australian Electoral Commission has reported a turnout of 89.41 per cent of eligible voters, slightly down on the 89.8 per cent total turnout for the 2022 federal election.
Prof Grant said there was a lost opportunity by the 'yes' campaign to "let the voice speak", calling the constitutional change a monumental, rather than a modest ask.
"Instead, it was shushed, shrunk small enough to fit into politics," he said.
"In the consultants' suites and the lawyers' dens, it was determined that if the voice was made so inoffensive, people may say 'yes'.
"Instead, it was so inoffensive people found it so easy to say 'no'.
"The constitution is not our problem - our conscience is our problem.
"The wary leaders will now return to the flinty ground of Indigenous suffering in Australia.
"They will chip away with what tools they have."
Australian Associated Press