Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced the referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament will take place on 14 October.
Here’s what that means.
What is the Indigenous Voice to Parliament?
An Indigenous Voice to Parliament would be an official representative body that gives First Nations people a say in laws and policies that affect them.
The Government wants to include this Voice in Australia’s Constitution because it does not currently recognise First Nations people.
To change the Constitution, a referendum is required.
What is a referendum?
A referendum is a public vote to change the Australian Constitution. All Australian citizens aged 18 and over must vote.
For a referendum to succeed, the majority of voters across Australia, as well as the majority of voters in a majority of states, must approve it.
The last referendum was in 1999 to replace the monarch with an Australian Head of State. It did not succeed.
What is the referendum question?
Australians will answer a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. It will be:
“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?”
Where did the request come from?
The request for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament comes from the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Endorsed and delivered by 250 First Nations leaders in May 2017, the Uluru Statement from the Heart outlined the path forward for recognising First Nations people in the nation’s Constitution. It had three requests for reform.
The first request was to implement a Voice to Parliament in Australia’s Constitution.
It then asked to establish a Makarrata Commission, which would involve a treaty and truth-telling process.
The Government wants to implement a Voice to Parliament first because these requests were designed to be implemented in order.
The Labor Party (who are in Government) is in favour of the Voice, with Albanese saying it should be “an inspiring and unifying Australian moment“.
The Greens are also in favour of the Voice, saying it’s an “important opportunity for the country to show its support for progress for First Nations people”.
Senator Lidia Thorpe quit the Greens over her opposition to the Voice, which she says would be powerless and ineffective.
The Liberal Party opposes the Voice because they don’t believe it will “resolve the issues on the ground in Indigenous communities”.
The National Party also opposes it because they “don’t believe that this will genuinely close the gap” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.