Vote Yes for a Voice for our 1st Peoples
Constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament is a body enshrined in the Constitution that would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives. A Voice to Parliament gives the Australian Government the opportunity to make policies with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, rather than for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Voice to Parliament explained
As we head to a referendum later this year, here are the key things you need to know. It’s about 3 things:
1. recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution.
2. having an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
3. the need for a referendum to make it all happen.
Every Australian needs to be part of this conversation, and you are invited to use the following information to carry this conversation in your families, in your workplaces and in your communities.
What is Indigenous Constitutional recognition?
What constitutional recognition means is acknowledging the 65,000 years of continuous connection that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to this country. It’s about Australians embracing First Nations people and recognising the unique status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first people of this nation. It will give us a better sense of where we started, as a people and as a nation. Constitutional recognition puts Indigenous people firmly in the founding document of modern Australia. It would do so in a way that Indigenous people have decided they want to be recognised in the document that defines the way our nation works - the Constitution. In 1967 the Australian public voted overwhelmingly to allow the Commonwealth Government to make laws about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Now, Indigenous Australians are asking to be recognised. We can’t just have symbolic recognition, there needs to be practical change alongside that. In 2017, the Uluru Statement from the Heart very firmly said meaningful constitutional recognition comes through a Voice to Parliament.
What is a Voice to Parliament?
A Voice to Parliament is about having a representative body of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, sitting outside the Parliament, providing advice to parliaments and governments on issues that have a particular impact on Indigenous Australians. The 1967 referendum enabled the Commonwealth to make laws about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Now, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are asking to be given a Voice when those laws are made, and to be able to provide advice. It’s about bringing the expertise and experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the table, so parliaments and governments can make better laws and policies and get better outcomes on the ground. It’s fair and practical, and it’s what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have decided they want. Constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament gives all Australians the chance for a unifying moment.
Why a referendum?
The Constitution does not belong to a political party or a government, it belongs to the Australian people and only we can change it. To change it, we need a referendum where the whole country votes. A successful referendum is where the majority of Australians in a majority of states vote yes. Our Constitution is one of the hardest to change, anywhere in the world. Enshrining recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Constitution provides long-term security that recognition will prevail and won’t be affected by day-to-day politics and the whims of governments. In a referendum, voters will vote on the basic principle of recognising Indigenous Australians in the constitution and a right to a collective Voice to seek to influence and inform the parliament and the government. It will be our elected representatives in the parliament, not we as voters, who will decide the composition, functions, powers, and procedures of the Voice.
From the Heart is co-ordinating the Vote Yes campaign for the upcoming referendum. To get involved or to find out more, please visit fromtheheart.com.au