The Voice to Parliament


On 26 April 2023, Council declared its support for 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 (The Voice to Parliament).

While we won't seek to influence how people vote, we will share clear, unambiguous information with the community, enabling residents to make a considered and informed choice in the referendum, which will be held between October and December 2023

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.

What is the Uluru Statement from the Heart?

On 26 May 2017, over 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates gathered and issued the Uluru Statement from the Heart to the Australian People.

This is an invitation to the Australian People (not Government) from First Peoples which asks Australians to walk together with them to build a better future for all.

This would be done by establishing a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, and the establishment of the Makarrata Commission for truth-telling and treaty.

Read the Uluru Statement in full

Read the Uluru Statement

Download the plain text PDF

Uluru Statement from the Heart

We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago. 

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years? 

With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future. 

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness. 

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution. 

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination. 

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

When is the Referendum?

While a date hasn't been announced, the Australian Government has stated its intention to hold the referendum sometime between September and December 2023.

Find out more at the Australian Electoral Commission

Do I have to vote in the Referendum?

Voting is compulsory for Australian citizens aged 18 years or older. If you do not vote and don’t have a valid and sufficient reason, you may be fined.

More information is available from the Australian Electoral Commission.

What is the Referendum question?

The question to be put to the Australian people at the 2023 referendum 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?


What is the Constitutional amendment being proposed?

The proposed law that Australians are being asked to approve at the referendum would insert a new section into 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:

  1. There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice; 
  2. 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;
  3. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.

Find out more from the National Indigenous Australians Agency

More information

Australian Government's About the Voice

The Uluru Statement