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We support a First Nations Voice to Parliament

Posted February 13, 2023

  • Federal Government
SGS Economics and Planning USFRTH

We support a First Nations Voice to Parliament & the Uluru Statement from the Heart. With a Voice to Parliament referendum happening in October 2023, now is the time for informed conversations and action.

The First Nations Voice to Parliament is one of the three pillars of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, alongside truth-telling and treaty processes. The Voice to Parliament will be a representative body that empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to advise Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives. At our recent annual company conference, CEO Alison Holloway announced our support for a First Nations Voice to Parliament and spoke about the important role we can all play in much-needed change.

As independent consultants helping to shape good public policy and inform critical decisions about land in Australia, we see reconciliation as a fundamental and urgent responsibility. We support a First Nations Voice to Parliament and continue to take active steps in our own business to enact positive change.

— Alison Holloway, SGS CEO
SGS Economics OCT22 3093 Recovered 2

Australians will have the opportunity to vote on the constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament later this year, with the federal government potentially introducing the legislation to Parliament to set up the referendum as early as March 2023. As we lead up to the referendum, informed and meaningful conversations and action are needed.

A successful referendum will require all of us. Join the conversation. Be the change.

Voting in a Constitutional Referendum is about voting for the words in the Constitution. It is not voting about the details. For example, the Constitution establishes the High Court of Australia, but the Parliament decides how the High Court will operate and how many judges will be appointed to the Court at any one time.

Voting to insert a First Nations Voice into Parliament simply inserts the mechanism into the Constitution, and the Parliament will always have the power to decide how it will operate. By inserting the mechanism into the Constitution, governments of any political persuasion won’t be able to abolish it if the Voice gives advice the government may not like to hear.

We’re on the verge of transformative change for all Australians. The forthcoming constitutional referendum will be a once-in-many-lifetimes opportunity to make our Constitution better by giving the First Peoples of Australia a say in matters that affect them. It will give a voice to the voiceless and correct a wrong in our history.

— Dr Ed Wensing, SGS Special Advisor
SGS Economics OCT22 3093 Recovered

Tools and resources

Below are tools and resources for those looking to learn more and become engaged with the referendum process.

The Voice

The Australian Government has provided details regarding the operation and formation of the Voice to Parliament, along with a community toolkit.

Everything you Need to Know About the Referendum to Recognise Indigenous Australians

This book explains everything Australians need to know about the proposal to recognise Aboriginal peoples in the Constitution. With clarity and authority the book shows the symbolic and legal power of such a change and how we might get there.

Everything You Need to Know About the Uluru Statement from the Heart

This book is essential reading on how our Constitution was drafted, what the 1967 referendum achieved, and the lead-up and response to the Uluru Statement. Importantly, it explains how the Uluru Statement offers change that will benefit the whole nation.

Responding to Common Concerns about an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

Prepared by the First Nations Portfolio at the Australian National University, this paper provides responses to common concerns currently being raised about the Voice and is intended to help people better understand some of the complex issues and confusing commentary that has surrounded the Voice proposal, to help make an informed decision when voting in the referendum.

Australian Lawyers Alliance Member Briefing

Australian Lawyers Alliance has prepared a briefing on the Uluru Statement and the Voice to Parliament Referendum for their members. The Briefing provides very succinct advice on The Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Path to Indigenous Empowerment.

Preliminary advice regarding any affect of the proposed Voice to Parliament on First Nations Sovereignty

Preliminary advice provided by Tony McAvoy SC, Barrister at Frederick Jordan Chambers to the National Native Title Council (NNTC), concludes that within the understanding of international law First Nations sovereignty will not be impacted by the referendum for, and subsequent constitutional enshrinement of, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

Development of accessible resources – Voice to Parliament

Through a Partnership between Reconciliation Australia, SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, From the Heart, Life Without Barriers and Polaron Language Services is a project in place to develop a range of accessible information for Australian voters on a Voice to Parliament

Yes23 – Pledge your support

Answer the call from Indigenous Australians and pledge to vote 'Yes' for Indigenous constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament.

Yes23 Campaign open for donations

All Australians can directly support the drive for constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through a Voice to Parliament, with the Yes campaign now accepting tax-deductible donations from the public.

Together, Yes

Join the Together Yes movement – attend information sessions and sign up as a conversation host.

Referendums - Australian Electoral Commission

A centralised page that explains what referendums are, who runs them and how they are conducted.

Disinformation Register - Australian Electoral Commission

A list of prominent and misleading claims around The Voice to Parliament.

Expert analysis of the 'Official Yes/No Cases'

This analysis examines the Yes and No campaigns, assessing the accuracy of their claims based on facts and research. Based on these findings, this study considers how this might actively shape the outcome of the upcoming referendum, emphasising the vital role of accurate information in the democratic process.

Understanding the referendum from a human rights perspective

The Australian Human Rights Commission has created an educational resource kit to inspire the Australian public to view the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum through a human rights perspective.

Voice: A History of Representation

This ANTAR Factsheet provides a historical overview of 'Voice' bodies — Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative structures designed to empower First Nations people in influencing decisions that impact their lives, families, and communities.

Respectful Referendum Pledge

Advocates for Indigenous mental health in Australia have introduced the Respectful Referendum Pledge, a set of principles to foster a more civil and inclusive discussion surrounding the Voice to Parliament. This initiative, co-developed by prominent First Nations mental health organizations, seeks to mitigate social and emotional harm to First Nations people during the referendum debate.

LGiU Briefings On The Uluru Statement From The Heart

In this series of papers for local government in the LGiU Australia knowledge centre, SGS Special Advisor Dr Ed Wensing discusses local governments' role in supporting wider public understanding of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Treaty and Truth Telling in Australia. The papers provide a wealth of additional resources.

SGS Economics and Planning L Gi Uarticles 2

An Indigenous Voice to Parliament: What can Australia learn from other countries?

Dr Ed Wensing recently delivered a talk alongside Associate Professor Harry Hobbs from UTS College of Law, addressing the Voice to Parliament. The talk took place at the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) in Sydney. The AIIA had invited them to discuss similar Voice arrangements in other countries, where Indigenous and Minority groups advise their respective national Parliaments. The countries explored during the presentation included Norway, Sweden, and Finland, which have Sami Parliaments, as well as South Africa, Germany, and Singapore. The presentation also discussed the role of treaty arrangements in Canada and New Zealand. For a better understanding of Australia's position in relation to respecting the human rights of Indigenous peoples and examining Voice arrangements in other countries, you can watch the recorded event below.

SGS Economics and Planning Video Screenshot

Resources from the NIAA website:

Resources from the ANTAR website:

A Significant Milestone

Read Dr Ed Wensing's blog discussing the proposed constitutional amendment for recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia.

What is a Referendum?

This ANTAR factsheet outlines what constitutes a referendum – a 'yes' or 'no' vote by which the Australian people give their consent to make changes to the Constitution.

This page will receive ongoing updates leading up to the referendum.

We encourage robust and informed conversation on important public policy issues and opportunities in Australia. Please reach out to SGS Special Advisor Dr Ed Wensing if you would like to discuss this topic in more detail.

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  • Federal Government
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Ed Wensing

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