What is the Voice to Parliament?
The Voice is a proposed body designed to represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. It would provide independent advice to the Parliament and Government, make proactive and responsive representations, and have its own resources for research and advocacy. Members of the Voice would be chosen by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, serving for a fixed period of time to ensure accountability. The Voice aims to be representative, inclusive, culturally informed, and gender balanced. It would be accountable, transparent, and subject to governance and reporting requirements. The Voice would collaborate with existing organisations and traditional structures, but would not have a program delivery function or veto power.
The proposed amendment to the Constitution
If approved at the referendum, the Bill would add the following words to the Constitution:
In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:
- there shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
- 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;
- 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.
The above would be added to:
Chapter IX Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice
What is the Constitution?
The Australian Constitution is the set of rules by which Australia is governed. The only way to change the Constitution is by holding a referendum. It is up to the Australian people to decide if the Constitution should change.
What is a referendum?
A federal referendum is a national vote on a question about whether part of the Constitution should change. All Australian citizens aged 18 and over must vote.
How is the result decided?
For a referendum to be successful, a majority of voters need to vote ‘yes’ nationally, plus a majority of voters in at least 4 out of 6 states. This is known as a double majority.
What is the referendum question?
On referendum day, voters will be asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a single question.
Subject to the Parliament’s approval, the question on the ballot paper 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?”