Council declares its support for The Voice to Parliament

Published on 27 April 2023

Aboriginal flag

The Surf Coast Shire Council has declared its support for constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament.

At its 26 April meeting, the Council publicly supported a body enshrined in the Constitution that will enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives.

Council also committed to sharing clear, unambiguous information with the community, enabling residents to make a considered and informed choice in the referendum.

“Our commitment to Reconciliation and self-determination, combined with community expectations, means it is important that Council takes a public stance in supporting The Voice. We believe this is a timely and just path to take,” Mayor Cr Liz Pattison said. 

“We will not, however, seek to influence how individuals choose to vote.”

“The Voice to Parliament has arisen from the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which is a letter to the Australian People from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It calls for three main things: An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Australian Constitution, Truth Telling and Makarrata or Treaty.”

Mayor Pattison said the Voice to Parliament was not a political party policy.

“We’re the only country that has yet to acknowledge its First Nations people in their Constitution,” she said.

First Nations people have consistently called for self-determination, rather than symbolism, in representing and responding to their interests. The recent success of the Pilk Purriyn truth-telling event, presented in partnership with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, was a great example of this approach.

Between October and December 2023, a referendum will be held in which Australians will vote on whether to update the Constitution to include an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

The Voice is a body that will:

·       Provide independent advice to Parliament and Government.

·       Be chosen by First Nations people based on the wishes of local communities.

·       Be representative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

·       Be empowering, community-led, inclusive, respectful, culturally informed and gender balanced, and include youth.

·       Be accountable and transparent.

·       Work alongside existing organisations and traditional structures.

The Voice will not:

·       Have program delivery function.

·       Have veto powers.


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