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Referendum: The Indigenous Voice to Parliament

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that resources in this guide may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons. There may also be culturally sensitive terms or language used in some of the resources in this Guide

Introduction - Voice, Treaty, Truth

The Uluru Statement from the Heart was developed from a vibrant, First Nations designed and led, national discussion process. Following regional dialogues held around the country, 250 Indigenous Australian delegates gathered at the 2017 First Nations National Constitutional Convention at Uluru. The discussion and consensus building reflect a similar process from which the Australian Constitution was developed, although in the case of the Uluru Statement, First Nations Australians were at the centre of the decision making. Three central recommendations emerged from the National Constitutional Convention; a First Nations Voice to be enshrined in the nation’s constitution; the development of a truth telling process; and the establishment of treaties (see the Victorian Treaty arrangements, for example) .

The first Nations Australians contributing to the Uluru Convention saw the exposure of Indigenous truths as an important educative process for all Australians, recognising that our formal education systems have a role to play for the legal process of constitutional reform to be effective. The focus on truth telling is explained by the following statement from the regional dialogues (The Uluru Statement, 2022):

In order for meaningful change to happen, Australian society generally needs to “work on itself” and to know the truth of its own history. (Brisbane Regional Dialogue)

The materials curated in this library guide are a part of the vital role universities play in this process of education about civic and social responsibilities, and to facilitate informed decision-making in the lead up to the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum.


Read The Uluru Statement frrm the Heart | 2017

Read the Statement below.


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 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


Indigenous representatives explain the Uluru Statement from the Heart

Anderson, P. (2017). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples from across Australia make historic statement. Indigenous Law Bulletin, 8(29), 8–9.


Anderson, P., & Davis, M. (2022). The uluru statement - it’s time, referendum now. Australian Socialist, 28(1), 8.





ABC News (Australia). (2022, December 21). Why Megan Davis remains optimistic about a Voice to Parliament | 7.30 [Video]. YouTube.



ABC News (Australia). (2023, January 26). Professor Marcia Langton on Australia Day, the Voice and more | ABC News [Video]. YouTube.

Media Coverage of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.


Mayor, T. (2018, March 22). We won’t give up on the Uluru Statement. Indigenous X.


Larkin, D. (2021, January 22). Silencing the Voice: How government is failing the Uluru Statement from the heart.

Indigenous X


Reed, T. ( 2017, December 16). Change requires courage: We need all Australians to walk with us.

Indigenous X


ABC News (Australia). (2022, July 6). What is a First Nations Voice to parliament and how close is Australia to having one? | ABC News [Video]. YouTube.



Curphey, B. (2021). No voice, no treaty, no truth: Indigenous Australians continue to be left out of the conversation. Guardian (Sydney), (1984), 1–2.



Credlin, P. (2023, March 3). Uluru Statement 'plugged in and imported' from the republic of Zaire [Video]. Sky  News Live.


Kenny, C. (Host), & Leeser J. (Contributor). (2023, August 1). Uluru Statement from the heart always meant as a 'gift' to the Australian people [Video]. Sky News Live.


Sky News Australia. (2022, May 27). Joint Resolution of religious organisations to endorse Uluru Statement from the Heart [Video]. YouTube.



Grattan,  M. (2022, November 28). Nationals declare they will oppose the ‘Voice’ referendum. The Conversation.


Kildea,  P., & Synot, E. (2022, May 26). We keep hearing about a First Nations Voice to parliament, but what would it actually look like in practice? The Conversation. nations-voice-to-parliament-but-what-would-it-actually-look-like-in-practice-183718


Rigney, D., Compton, A., Bell, D., Evans, D., Murray, D.,  & Gertz, J.  (2022, August 4). Establishing a Voice to Parliament could be  an opportunity for Indigenous Nation Building. Here’s what that means. The Conversation.


Twomey, A. (2022, July 30).  Creating a constitutional Voice – the words that could change Australia. The  Conversation.

Reading List


Anderson, P. (2017). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples from across Australia make historic statement. Indigenous Law Bulletin, 8(29), 8–9.


Anderson, P., Davis, M., Appleby, G., Brennan, S., Cama, B., Davis, A., Hunter, N., Larkin, D., Macgillivray, D., Scales, S.,Scott, G., & Synott, E. (2017). The Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Uluru Statement.


Davis, M. (2021, March). Voice at a crossroads. The Monthly.


Grant, K., Anderson, P., Calma, T., Davis, M., Dodson, P., Grant, S., Joyce, B., Kelly, D., Langton, M., Leibler, M., Morris,S.,Mundine, W., Munro, L., Price, J., Sarra, C., Shorten, B., & Turnbull, M. (2020, June 1). Living black: Voiceless - series 1 - ep 8 [Video]. Informit.


Morris , S. (2022, October 27). A constitutional Voice to Parliament: Ensuring parliament is in charge, not the courts.The Conversation.


Roach, N.  (2021, January 17). We all need to get on board the campaign for First Nations Voice to Parliament. Pearls and Irritations.


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