During Monday night's ABC Q&A debate, Prof Pattel-Gray, an Indigenous theologian and the head of the school of Indigenous studies at Sydney's University of Divinity, warned that voting against the Voice would "kill a nation of people".
She claimed that the referendum, which all adult Australians will vote on later this year, "will determine the integrity" of the country.
"What Australia needs to be conscious of is that this is not a political agenda, this is a moral and ethical agenda, and this will determine the integrity of Australia, because individually every person has a role to play," Professor Pattel-Gray said, prompting applause.
Prof Pattel-Gray then gave an impassioned plea, referencing the Uluru Statement from the Heart, to explain why Australians should vote "yes". "Our people laid their soul bare to you and made themselves vulnerable in extending the hand to this nation and asking you to recognise us and to give us a voice," she continued.
She also brought up statistics that show almost half (49 per cent) of youth detainees in Australia are Indigenous, despite making up just 5.8 per cent of the 10-17 age group.
"What a shame to this country. And yet what you decide is going to determine our future," said Prof Pattel-Gray. "We shared with you our pain, but we also shared our hope, and if we don't have that hope recognised, you are then damning us to hell, and you are going to kill a nation of people."