With the Voice to Parliament referendum coming up later this year and the ‘national week of action’ now underway, there’s a lot of information flying around that may be confusing and confronting.
At Support Act, we acknowledge the impact that intergenerational trauma and past injustices have had on all First Nations peoples, including those who work in music, particularly in relation to mental health.
As an organisation, we seek to become an industry leader in offering culturally intelligent, respectful and trustworthy support to all First Nations music industry workers, and believe it’s important for everyone to take the time to educate themselves about this important national conversation.
Here’s some key facts about what it is, how you can find out more to make your decision or join the conversation, resources and support available if you need it.
What you need to know
What is the Voice to Parliament?
Constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament is a body enshrined in the Constitution that would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives.
A Voice to Parliament gives the Australian Government the opportunity to make policies with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, rather than for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. – Uluru Statement from the Heart
Why is it important?
A Voice to Parliament will give Indigenous communities a route to help inform policy and legal decisions that impact their lives. Giving people a say will lead to more effective results.
Embedding a Voice in the Constitution would recognise the special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia’s history, but importantly would also mean that it can’t be shut down by successive governments. – Reconciliation Australia
How will this affect you?
By giving greater rights and responsibilities back to the First Nations communities, it gives us all the ability to improve reconciliation and ultimately, healing. This will be of huge benefit to all First Nations music workers.
Do all First Nations peoples support the idea of a referendum?
As with any major change, there is healthy debate around the Voice that represents a diversity of views. It’s important to take the time to listen to what is being said, educate yourself on each side of the debate and make your own informed decision.
How will the people vote?
It will be voted on in a referendum. Everyone will be asked to answer a simple question with a YES or a NO answer. For a referendum to be successful, it requires a majority of voters across the nation and a majority of voters in a majority of states.
More information on the Voice
This week has been declared the ‘national week of action’ on the Voice to Parliament with community barbecues, letterdrops and online ‘yarning circles’.
The Voice to Parliament was one of the key recommendations to come from the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which was written by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in 2017. This statement noted the need to improve the representation of Indigenous Australians through a change to the Constitution.
The social, spiritual and economic wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples would be considered by the Australian government through the Voice, meaning that Indigenous Australians have the opportunity to advise all levels of government about laws and policies that directly affect them.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese put forward his support for an Indigenous Voice to parliament as one of his reform promises. The PM suggests the following three sentences to be added to the Constitution:
- There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice
- It may make representations to parliament and the executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples
- The parliament shall, subject to this constitution, have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice
A referendum will be held with voters being posed with a simple yes/no question.
The Australian Government’s new National Cultural Policy Revive was recently launched with the inclusion of the First Nations First pillar, which aims to recognise and respect the crucial place of First Nations stories at the centre of Australia’s arts and culture.
An action mentioned in the policy under the First Nations First Pillar, states to Implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full. This highlights the conjunction between the Voice and the revival of the arts, entertainment and cultural sector with a strong focus on First Nations perspective and experience.
- Australian Government website on the Voice
- Reconciliation Australia resources
- From the Heart – 15 minute module that educates and quizzes you on the Voice
- The Uluru Statement – FAQ’s
- From the Heart
- From the Heart – Community Groups
- Add your name to the Uluru Statement canvas
What’s being said in the media:
- ABC News – What are Aboriginal people saying about the Voice to Parliament?
- The Sydney Morning Herald – What to expect from the Yes and No campaigns for the Voice
- ABC RN – ‘Demand for detail on the Voice is a diversion’: Noel Pearson
- The Guardian – Who’s behind the Yes and No campaigns and how do they plan to convince Australia?
- National Indigenous Times – National Week of Action urges Yes to Voice
- The Canberra Times – Torres Straight Islanders offer voice model
Need some support?
If you’re feeling triggered by this information or find it overwhelming and need to speak to someone about your mental health, please call our Wellbeing Helpline on 1800 959 500. Choose option 3 for our dedicated First Nations Support Line if you would like to speak to a First Nations counsellor or a counsellor who has completed cultural awareness training.
If you need immediate support, call 13 YARN or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
You can also check out our programs and events available on our First Nations Mental Health page, as well as our First Nations Strategic Plan which highlights our commitment to offer culturally intelligent, respectful and trustworthy support for First Nations music workers.