What is it?
You are voting to amend the Constitution to recognise First Nations people for the first time and by establishing a Voice to parliament.
This is an independent, permanent advisory body which acts separate to the executive and parliament. It is a committee of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians giving advice to government on matters that affect the lives of First Nations people. The Voice cannot veto any policies and there is no legal requirement to follow its advice.
When is it?
Saturday, October 14, 2023.
Why a Voice?
In 2017, Indigenous Australians from around the country gathered and created the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for constitutional recognition of First Nations people and a First Nations Voice to parliament. A Voice will recognise the 65,000-year-old connection which Indigenous people have to Australia and enable Indigenous communities to directly raise challenges they are facing to government. The Statement from the Heart envisages three stages of healing the atrocities and inequality inflicted on Indigenous Australians since the arrival of colonists: Voice, Treaty, Truth. While Australia will vote on October 14 on giving Indigenous people a Voice, what comes after that is undecided. Every country in the Commonwealth other than Australia already has a treaty with its First Nations people, and the Voice would play a roll in negotiating with the government for an Australian Indigenous Treaty. The truth telling phase involves the acceptance by non-Indigenous Australia of the mistreatment of Indigenous people in Australia historically, that has resulted in trauma and widespread inequality.
Why is it different to bodies previously set up to engage with Aboriginal affairs?
Various bodies to advise on Indigenous affairs have been set up and disbanded over the years. By putting the Voice in the Constitution it allows for a permanent representative body that can’t simply be shut down for political purposes.
How does voting work?
All Australian citizens aged 18 and over are legally required to vote. The referendum’s success relies on a double majority – a national majority of ‘Yes’ votes & a majority in at least four out of the six states. This is the first referendum this century. If you are not registered to vote you have until 8pm on September 18 to enroll. Click HERE to enroll.
If you want to apply for a postal vote click HERE.
How do I fill out the ballot correctly on the day?
The ballot paper provides a space to write your answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Make sure your answer can be read clearly. To see an example of the ballot click HERE.
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