The Voice to Parliament – design principles announced

  • 4 April 2023

Last week, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese revealed the wording for the Indigenous Voice to parliament referendum after many months of consultation with Indigenous leaders.

Mr Albanese said the constitutional provisions would enshrine the two “fundamental” and simple principles of recognition and consultation.

“As Australians, we have an extraordinary privilege. We share this great island continent with the world’s oldest continuous culture and the nation should recognise this and be proud of it,” he said.

Australians will be asked: “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?”

If the referendum is successful, the Voice to Parliament will be a permanent body to make representations to the Australian Parliament and the Executive Government on legislation and policy of significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

A series of design principles of the Voice to Parliament, agreed by the First Nations’ Referendum Working Group have now been published.

  1. The Voice will give independent advice to the Parliament and Government
  2. The Voice will be chosen by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based on the wishes of local communities
  3. The Voice will be representative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, gender balanced and include youth
  4. The Voice would have specific remote representatives as well as representation for the mainland Torres Strait Islander population.
  5. The Voice will be empowering, community-led, inclusive, respectful and culturally informed
  6. The Voice will be accountable and transparent
  7. The Voice will work alongside existing organisations and traditional structures
  8. The Voice will not have a program delivery function
  9. The Voice will not have a veto power

At the time these principles were announced, there were reports that proponents against the Voice to Parliament had concerns it would move Elders further away from their decision-making roles, going against established cultural protocols.

Senator Lidia Thorpe responded to the referendum working group’s announcement of the principles. “The Voice proposal disrespects the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who reject the notion of Constitutional recognition and who have been calling for self-determination and treaty for decades.” she said.

In November last year, Auspire – Australia Day Council WA publicly declared its support to act as an ally to the process in the lead up to the referendum.

“This is the right time for our Nation to be having this conversation and Auspire is privileged to have the opportunity to play a role in what will be described as a transformative process in the history of Australia.” said Bradley Woods, Chairman of Auspire – Australia Day Council WA.

“We are in a unique position to be a facilitator for this very important discussion and where appropriate, provide a platform for respectful debate.” said Morgen Lewis, CEO Auspire. “There is a lot of information available now, and we strongly encourage those in our network to inform themselves before the referendum.”

Parliament will vote on the wording for the referendum question no later than June and referendum is held sometime in the final three months of the year.

For more information about the The Voice design principles visit the Uluru Statement website

To find an information session or community forum to get involved in the discussion, visit our events page.

Back to news