What is the Voice referendum?

by Brighton Council

On Saturday 14 October, 2023, all eligible Australian citizens aged 18 years and over will vote on whether Australia should change its Constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia by establishing a body called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

Why is it happening now?
In 2017, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across the country came together and considered all the options for recognition. They wrote the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which called for a Voice for First Nations peoples to be added to the Constitution. In 2022, the Australian Government agreed to have a referendum to let Australians decide whether to establish the Voice in the Constitution. This is why Australians are now being asked to vote on it.

What is the Referendum question?
“A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”

What the Voice would do
The Voice would be set up in line with some principles. These were agreed between a First Nations Referendum Working Group, made up of First Nations leaders from across Australia, and the Government. The Voice would be separate to the Government. But the group would give important advice to the Government and Parliament. The Voice would speak on issues that affect the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Voice members would make sure everyone knows what they are doing and saying. The Voice would work with groups and organisations that are already in place.

Voting in the referendum
If you’re an Australian citizen and older than 18 years, you:

• must be on the electoral roll
• must vote.

At the referendum, you will be asked to vote either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to adding the words to the Constitution. The referendum will pass if both of these happen:

• most voters in at least 4 out of 6 states vote yes
• most voters in Australia vote yes.

Get informed at www.voice.gov.au.

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