The First Nations Voice to Parliament proposal has raised many questions, but there is a wealth of information available to fill any gaps in knowledge. The following resources help inform and educate, and bust some of the myths circulating about the Voice.
In late 2023, Australia will hold its first referendum in 24 years. The draft question that will be put to voters is whether to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
The Voice was proposed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and presented to the nation on 26 May 2017 by delegates to the First Nations National Constitutional Convention, held over four days near Uluru in Central Australia.
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.”
Uluru Statement from the Heart
The Uluru Statement website is your first port of call for information about the Voice. It features a comprehensive section on the Design Principles of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, plus a short online course on the Voice to Parliament, which answers questions such as ‘What is Indigenous Constitutional Recognition?’, ‘What is a Voice to Parliament?’, ‘Why is a Referendum needed?’, and ‘How you can learn more and support’. (online, free)
Yes23 is a campaign led by Australians for Indigenous Constitutional Recognition Ltd. The campaign website has a comprehensive, plain-language FAQ section that answers a lot of the concerns raised about the Voice.
The Yes23 campaign explains: ”Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country are coming together to ask for a simple and practical form of recognition – a Voice in the laws and policies that directly affect them.
This means giving them a direct line of communication with politicians in Canberra, allowing them to offer practical solutions to the unique challenges they face in areas such as jobs, health, education, and justice.
By cutting out bureaucratic red tape and party politics, we can ensure that real community voices are heard and that resources are used effectively to achieve real results. This is a simple and powerful step that we can take as a nation to recognise and honour the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
There are also opportunities to get involved and volunteer, and extensive Resources to download and share, including The Yes Guide, posters, social media collateral, merchandise and Zoom backgrounds.
Australian Electoral Commission (AEC)
The AEC covers all the legal aspects of the upcoming referendum, including details on the Constitution and the proposed changes, the timing of the referendum, enrolling to vote, a campaigners information hub and a referendum fact sheet.
The Voice to Parliament Handbook: All the Detail you Need
The Voice to Parliament Handbook is an easy-to-follow guide for Australians who want to better understand what a Voice to Parliament actually means. Written by Torres Strait Islander writer Thomas Mayo and respected journalist Kerry O’Brien with illustrations by Cathy Wilcox, this guide offers simple explanations, useful anecdotes, historic analogies and visual representations, to be shared among friends, family and community networks in the build-up to the referendum. If the ‘yes’ vote is successful, this book is also intended to become a keepsake of an important and emotional milestone in Australia’s history.
Voice to Parliament: Debunking 10 Myths and Misconceptions
Monash University Law Lecturer Katie O’Bryan and Professor of Law Paula Gerber tackle some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding the Voice.
The Victorian Women’s Trust has established ‘Together, Yes’ to foster conversation and information sharing around the Voice to Parliament. The group is running 24 ‘kitchen table conversations’ in person and two online as a way to engage people in respectful and honest dialogue to build knowledge, sharpen insight and create real and lasting change.
A recent online information session is available to watch on demand.
Together, Yes: Community Info Session [Online Webinar Recording April 2023] from Victorian Women’s Trust on Vimeo.