A major ‘Yes’ campaign was launched in Adelaide last night for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament to be established in a referendum later this year. The campaign, named ‘Yes23’, says a Voice is a “rare chance” to make “real and practical change” to laws and policies affecting First Nations people.
What is the Voice?
An Indigenous Voice to Parliament would be an official body to advise Parliament on laws affecting First Nations people. Later this year, a referendum will be held to enshrine a Voice in the Constitution, which does not currently mention First Nations people. Including the Voice in the Constitution would mean it is a permanent requirement of Parliament. A successful Constitutional change via a referendum requires a ‘Yes’ vote from a majority of voters in a majority of states.
Is this official?
There are not currently any ‘official’ campaigns for or against a Voice (i.e. campaigns receiving government funding). However, this ‘Yes’ campaign is associated with the group From the Heart, the official custodians of the Uluru Statement From the Heart. The Uluru Statement, delivered by First Nations leaders in 2017, recommended a Constitutionally-enshrined Voice. A prominent ‘No’ campaign led by a group of current and former politicians was launched last month. It is called ‘Recognise a Better Way’ and calls for a referendum to recognise First Nations people in the Constitution, but without a formal Voice. The ‘Yes23’ campaign website describes a Voice as a “practical” step. “By cutting out bureaucratic red tape and party politics, we can ensure that real community voices are heard and that resources are used effectively to achieve real results,” it says.