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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

The Purpose of the Referendum: Indigenous Voice to Parliament Guide

First Nations Australians have, since the early colonial period, been engaged with the colony, initially in localised warfare to defend Indigenous sovereignty but as early as the 1830’s in ongoing actions about matters like treaties and Indigenous rights. At the time that Australia’s Constitution was drafted in the 1890s, First Nations Australians had already been dispossessed from large areas of land and were not consulted or considered in the Constitution. Now, following an Indigenous led, widely consultative process, there is a proposal for First Nations Australians to be explicitly included in the Constitution.

During 2023, the Australian people will be asked to vote in a Referendum. This Referendum will be to decide whether Parliament should enshrine an Indigenous voice into the Constitution - something which has not been mandated to this time. It is one step in enacting the recommendations from the Uluru Statement from the Heart (2017). There were three parts - voice, treaty and truth. The Referendum will be taking the first step toward enacting these goals. No date has been set at this time for the referendum to take place, but it has been proposed for 2023.

The last time Australia had a Referendum was 1999 and the last time a referendum centered around Indigenous peoples was in 1967, so there will be a lot of people voting in a Referendum for the first time as they were not yet born, were too young to vote or were not living in Australia, when the last one was held. 

The Guide is designed to supply information about referendums, the Voice to Parliament and the Uluru Statement of the Heart to assist people to be well-informed in making their decision about how to vote. There will be news articles, videos, scholarly articles and educational resources. 

The Guide is a collaboration between the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor Indigenous Leadership and the Western Sydney University LIbrary. 

The Date - October 14th 2023.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has confirmed Saturday October 14 as the date for the historic Voice to Parliament referendum.

Information about this referendum, including the timeline for voting is available on the Referendum tab in this guide. 

Statement of Support for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament from the Western Sydney University Board of Trustees


Western Sydney University is deeply committed to working with Indigenous communities and appreciates the significant contributions Indigenous staff, students and Elders generously provide to the University. We are proud of the ambitious strategies that position the University as a national and international leader in Indigenous education, engagement and research – notably our 2020-2025 Indigenous Strategy and the 2023-2032 Indigenous Futures Decadal Strategy. The University is also proudly establishing an Indigenous Centre of Excellence, a landmark building that will provide an important gathering place for the community to celebrate both the University’s and region’s longstanding connection with Indigenous people. It will be an international benchmark for Indigenous education and transformational research.

Australians will soon vote in a referendum to determine whether to amend the Constitution to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The Board of Trustees acknowledges the diverse views held on this matter, including within the University community, and respects the opinions of all individuals. We reaffirm the University’s support of the Model Code for Protection of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom in Australian Higher Education Providers (as proposed by the Hon. Robert French AC), which is adopted and embodied within the University’s Freedom of Speech Policy. Supporting freedom of speech recognises the importance of critical and free inquiry, informed intellectual discourse, and respectful public debate. This coexists with the University’s strategic principle of equity, underpinning our long-standing commitment to enhancing the lives of students, people and communities by promoting fairness, social justice and opportunities for success.

The Board of Trustees highly commends the University on the way it has and continues to actively enable and support free and respectful discussion, openly shared information and ideas enabling the advancement of knowledge and ultimately informed decision-making across the University and community in relation to the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

The Board of Trustees supports the change to the Constitution to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The Voice to Parliament will enable Indigenous Australians to provide their opinions on matters that impact them, their families, and communities and will play a significant role in healing the nation and in supporting our journey towards true reconciliation.

We also acknowledge the importance of ensuring Indigenous voices are embedded throughout core business in the University’s governance and management structures, ensuring Indigenous representation is meaningfully integrated throughout the University. Collectively, as members of the Board of Trustees, we are committed to empowering the diverse Indigenous communities within the Western Sydney region we serve. We reaffirm our ambition and commitment to enable and nurture the next generation of Indigenous leaders, educators and academics and to support reconciliation across our region and nation.

10 August 2023

Professor Jennifer Westacott AO,
Chancellor, Western Sydney University
on behalf of the Western Sydney University Board of Trustees


Universities Australia Conference | Keynote | Professor Megan Davis

In this Opening Address, Professor Megan Davis outlines the significant historical events leading up to the current Australian situation and provides context around the call for a Voice to Parliament. . 

Everything You Need to Know about the Voice

The Time Has Come - From the

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Library guide created by Western Sydney University Library staff is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY)