What is the Voice to Parliament referendum?

This year, Australians will be asked to vote in a referendum (a direct vote on a topic of national interest) on a change to the Constitution which would legislate a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory body, called “the Voice”, to advise parliament and the federal government on Indigenous policy matters.

The proposed “Voice to Parliament” aims to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders a greater say in national policy-making, given that First Nations Australians battle poorer health, lower incomes and higher barriers to education.

Current policy-making does not have a systematic process for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to provide advice, meaning that policy is often made for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people rather than by or with them.

The Voice to parliament was a key recommendation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a 12-paragraph document written and endorsed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in 2017.

The 'Yes' and No campaigns

Support for The Voice to Parliament is a key priority of the current Labor government under Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Many First Nations groups and major business groups support the initiative too.

A new group, Australians for Indigenous Constitutional Recognition, has been formed as a key fundraising and campaign vehicle for the referendum campaign.

The Nationals party is against the Voice saying it would not effectively represent Indigenous Australians outside the capital cities. The committee leading the ‘no’ campaign against Indigenous constitutional recognition is proposing an alternative change to the constitution which should be a preamble acknowledging First Nations people as well as migrants. Australia’s peak body representing people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds has called the suggestion 'a distraction'. The opposition, led by Peter Dutton, is yet to clarify its position.

As we saw with the campaigns on the vote for the Marriage Equality Act in 2017, the arguments between 'yes' and no' groups can be toxic, especially online. Young Indigenous advocates say they are concerned about “nasty” and “racist” elements that may emerge as the Indigenous voice to parliament campaign picks up speed.

With this in mind, it's important to be aware of how the campaigns are affecting us and seek support if necessary.

Support for First Nations Australians

  • Sonder

    • Provides 24/7 assistance for anyone who requires it, via our app, following a culturally supportive approach.

    • Provides resources/information on a range of topics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

    • Provide, information and resources specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

    • A private and confidential app, which helps to show you ways to manage your thoughts and feelings, as well as how to decide what is important in your life.

    • Specifically designed for ATSI People aged 15 years and older.

    • The national leadership body for ATSI health in Australia.

    • A podcast that discusses the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the latest federal election, voting rights and Invasion Day. As a whole, it dives into topics surrounding truth-telling, black politics and protests.

    • A podcast where Thorpe talks to First Nations elders and activists regarding the injustices facing First Nations people, but more importantly the solutions and opportunities that can evolve.

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime, in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Image credit: Uluru Statement from The Heart, Reconciliation Australia

All content in Sonder's Help Centre is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

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