A First Nations Voice to Parliament protected by the Constitution is a key element of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Speaking at the Garma Festival, Prime Minister Albanese put forward a possible referendum question: “Do you support an alteration to the Constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?”
Why do we need a First Nations Voice?
A Voice to Parliament will give Indigenous communities a route to help inform policy and legal decisions that impact their lives. Giving people a say will lead to more effective results.
Embedding a Voice in the Constitution would recognise the special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia’s history, but importantly would also mean that it can’t be shut down by successive Governments.
How do we get a First Nations Voice to Parliament?
We need a Referendum. This is a bit like an election, but instead of voting for people to be Members of Parliament, Australia will be asked to answer a simple question – like the one proposed by the Prime Minister – with a YES or a NO.
For a referendum to be successful it requires a majority of voters across the nation and a majority of voters in a majority of states—this is known as a double majority.
What work has been done so far?
The Voice was proposed in the Uluru Statment from the Heart.
It was presented to the nation five years ago on 26 May 2017 by delegates to the First Nations National Constitutional Convention, held over four days near Uluru in Central Australia.
The 250-member convention was held after the 16-member Referendum Council had travelled around the country and met with over 1,200 people.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart calls for, “… the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution and a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making and truth-telling about our history.”
In the five years since the release of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a Joint Select Committee has considered the proposal.
An Indigenous Voice Co-design process outlined, in detail, options for how a Voice could work.
Further work will continue in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about what will go forward and ultimately the Australian people will be asked to support an Indigenous Voice to Parliament being enshrined in our Constitution.
Do Australians want change?
Reconciliation Australia’s work consistently shows the public is on board when it comes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having a say, and that we want governments to step up too.
The Australian Reconciliation Barometer – our two-yearly survey on attitudes to reconciliation – showed 95% of Australians believe it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in matters that affect them.
It showed 81% of Australians believe it is important to protect an Indigenous Body within the Constitution, so any government can’t remove it.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can no longer see their right to have a say, their right to be heard at the highest levels of law in this country, continue to be a political football tossed between successive governments.
The time for action is now
Get up to speed with the information at hand and start talking now with friends and family.
- Read information on the Uluru Statement from the Heart at: ulurustatement.org
- Read information on the Uluru Statement from the Heart at: fromtheheart.com.au
- Read the Indigenous Voice Co-design report
- Read the 2018 Joint Select Committee Report
- Read the 2020 Australian Reconciliation Barometer
- Professor Megan Davis on the Uluru Statement from the Heart
- Linda Burney, Yiŋiya Mark Guyula, June Oscar, Dean Parkin, Mayatili Marika & Jacinta Nampijinpa Price talk Voice on QnA from Garma Festival 2022
- Professor Marcia Langton describes the Voice to Parliament process so far.