The United Nations Association of Australia Statement on the Referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution through a Voice.
- recognises and celebrates the rights, knowledge and continuing culture and resilience of First Nations Australians
- accepts the invitation to walk alongside First Nations Australians to a better future as expressed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Uluru Statement
- confirms our support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Declaration
- recognises the alignment between the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- recognises the leadership role of the Federal Government, all State and Territory Governments in promoting the YES vote in the forthcoming Referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islande peoples in our Constitution through a Voice.
- joins the YES campaign and seeks to promote information and opportunities for our fellow Australians to consider their position.
In 2017, the Uluru Statement from the Heart was offered as an invitation to all Australian people to walk alongside the Indigenous peoples of Australia towards a better future. The Uluru Statement is framed around ‘Voice, Treaty and Truth,’ in an attempt to heal and learn from the mistakes made in Australia’s past against Australia’s Indigenous population.
The first step towards healing, as suggested by Indigenous Elders from all around Australia, is to include an Indigenous Voice to Parliament on matters that affect the Indigenous population of Australia. This Voice has been suggested to be enshrined in the Constitution to ensure it sits and remains above politics and is enduring.
The Uluru Statement was accepted by the Australian Government in 2022 and the Referendum on the Voice will be held on 14 October 2023. Dialogue and engagement continues with Australians as we approach the Referendum
Reasons for our support
Considering the Referendum on the Voice the United Nations Association of Australia is promoting a YES vote because:
- the Uluru Statement is the culmination of the First Nations Constitutional Convention at Uluru in May 2017 which followed a series of regional dialogues held across the country to determine what meaningful reconciliation looks like for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- the design principles for the Voice defined by the First Nations Referendum Working Group include that the Voice will be chosen by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based on the wishes of local communities and will be empowering, community led, inclusive, respectful and culturally informed
- an eminent Constitutional Expert Group provided advice that the changes proposed in the Referendum achieve their intended outcomes and avoid unintended consequences
- we are failing to Close the Gap, but consistently where we do Close the Gap and achieve positive outcomes for First Nations is through Aboriginal led initiatives and community controlled organisations as reflected in the 2019 National Agreement.
- polling of Indigenous peoples in Australia shows 80% or greater support for the Voice
- we believe the Voice is an appropriate means of advancing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Australia.
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 alterations?
The clause to be inserted in the Constitution
Chapter IX Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice
In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:
- There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
- The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
- The Parliament shall, subject to this Consititution have power to make laws with respect to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.
Uluru Statement from the Heart, and resources provided by the Uluru Statement organisation, 2017
Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs inquiry into application of the UNDRIP in Australia, Indigenous Law Centre UNSW, Authors Professor Gabrielle Appleby, Professor Megan Davis, Dr Janine Gertz, Dr Sophie Rigney, Eddie Synot
Indigenous Voice Co-design Process Final Report, The Voice, 2022
Resources and reports provided at the Federal Government Closing the Gap website.
UNAA takes this position and encourages voters to learn more and consider their position in pursuit of our charitable purpose, set out in our Constitution, to support the United Nation’s policies for a safer, fairer and more sustainable world in fulfilment of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.