Cultural and creative life

Top 9: Your questions about the Voice to Parliament answered

Answers from experts about the upcoming referendum

yes experts (1)

If you’re younger than 42 years-old, this will be your first referendum on 14 October.

We gathered the 9 most commonly asked questions and put them to the experts.

What is the referendum about?

Referendums are “yes” or ‘no” question to change the Constitution of Australia. This year’s question is about constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament.

Co-chair of the Yes campaign and Arrernte and Kalkadoon woman, Rachel Perkins explained what that would look like.

“The Voice is just advice. That’s all it is,” Rachel said.

Embedded content:

Do Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples support it?

According to many studies, such as those by Reconciliation Australia, around 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples believe the Voice to Parliament is important.

Embedded content:

How will this impact communities?

Aunty Donna Ingram is an Elder of the Redfern Aboriginal community. She talks about how the very framework of the Voice will impact her community.

Embedded content:

Will this divide Australians by race?

Dr Shireen Morris is an expert in constitutional reform and Indigenous constitutional recognition.

She points out that Australians are already divided by race in the constitution.

“This is about uniting the country,” Shireen said.

Embedded content:

Aren’t the Indigenous MPs already an Indigenous Voice?

That’s not quite how our democracy works.

“Every MP in Parliament has to represent every Australian in their electorate and their political party,” Shireen said.

Embedded content:

Does this mean non-Indigenous people are going to lose rights?

Thomas Mayo is a Kaurareg Aboriginal and Kalkalgal, Erubamle Torres Strait Islander man. He’s been a huge advocate of the Voice since signing the Uluru Statement from the Heart back in 2017.

He debunks the idea that an advisory body would lead to anyone losing rights.

Embedded content:

Where is the detail?

A common complaint is that there isn’t enough detail about the Voice to Parliament.

Professor Anne Twomey explained why more detail would be a terrible idea. Anne is a lawyer specialising in Australian constitutional law and has worked everywhere from the High Court of Australia to various government departments and legal firms.

Embedded content:

Why do we need constitutional change?

There’s actually been 5 Indigenous advisory bodies in the last 50 years. Anne explained why having the Voice to Parliament is a great idea for respect and stability.

Embedded content:

How can I get involved?

We’re drawing closer and closer to the 14 October deadline. If you’d like to get involved, head to the official Yes campaign website to volunteer.

You can also attend a free Walking Together workshop.

Embedded content:

Authorised by Clover Moore in Sydney on behalf of Sydney City Council

Published 29 September 2023, updated 3 October 2023