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Voice to Parliament for Australian First Nations peoples

Australia’s First Nations peoples are not recognised in the Australian constitution. Aboriginal people were never included or participated in discussions about its creation or drafting in the 1890’s.

In 1967, national referendum was successfully held to ensure First Nations people could be included in the census and ensure the federal government were responsible for Indigenous peoples in the country. However, this change did not provide constitutional recognition of Aboriginal people or provide a voice to parliament when laws are made which impact upon them.1

In March 2023, a Bill was introduced to the Australian federal parliament to hold a referendum to alter the Constitution and establish a First Nations body to advise the federal government about issues relating to First Nations peoples.2 Enshrining an Indigenous Voice in the constitution would prevent governments from disbanding or weakening First Nations advisory groups, as occurred many times in past decades.

The idea of creating a Voice to advise the Federal government about matters that affect First Nations people was proposed following a nation-wide community engagement process, which culminated in a document called the Uluru Statement from the Heart.3

1. Australian Human Rights Commission (2023). About constitutional recognition. Accessed on 12 June 2023.
2. Reconciliation Australia (2023). Voice to Parliament. Accessed on 12 June 2023.
3. The Uluru Statement (2023). The statement. Accessed on 12 June 2023.