On Saturday 14 October, Australians will have their say in a referendum about whether to change the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
About the Voice
The Voice would be an independent and permanent advisory body. It would give advice to the Australian Parliament and Government on matters that affect the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
In 2017, over 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Delegates from all across Australia put their signatures on a historic statement - the Uluru Statement From the Heart.
The Uluru Statement From the Heart is addressed to the Australian people and invites the creation of a better future.
The three key pillars of reform called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart are:
- Voice – a constitutionally enshrined representative mechanism to provide expert advice to Parliament about laws and policies that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Treaty – a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations peoples that acknowledges the historical and contemporary cultural rights and interests of First Peoples by formally recognising sovereignty, and that land was never ceded.
- Truth – a comprehensive process to expose the full extent of injustices experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, to enable shared understanding of Australia’s colonial history and its contemporary impacts.
Merri-bek City Council says YES to Truth, Treaty and a Voice
In 2021, Council signed a Statement of Commitment to Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities. This statement sets out the Council’s vision for reconciliation and outlines how we recognise, support and commit to a process of self-determination, and Treaties that enshrine the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
Our Statement of Commitment includes within it support for the implementation of the Uluru Statement From the Heart.
This means that Merri-bek says YES to Truth, Treaty and a Voice.
Community Grants and Resources
- Apply for an Information Sharing Grant
Council wants to ensure that the Merri-bek community are equipped to make their own informed choice when it comes time to vote.
To support this process, grant funding is now available to Merri-bek based community groups and organisations to facilitate respectful community-led conversations and information sharing around the Voice to Parliament Referendum.
A total pool of $10,000 is available, with the option of applying for $1,000 or $2,000
How can the Information Sharing Grant be used?
Some ways in which the grant funding can be used include - organising a First Nations speaker, hiring a venue, creating resources or catering.
Learn about Information Sharing Grants
- I want to support the Yes vote for The Voice to Parliament – does council provide Yes signs?
If you would like to collect an A3 YES corflute banner to display at your home or organisation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Information on voting
It will be compulsory for all eligible Australians over the age of 18 to vote on Referendum Day. If you vote in elections, then you must vote in the referendum.
If you are enrolled to vote in elections, you are enrolled to vote in the referendum. You do not need to enrol again.
The Australian Government has announced that Referendum Day will be on Saturday 14 October 2023.
The early voting will begin on Monday 2 October.
Hundreds of early voting centres will progressively open and be available over the two weeks before voting day.
You can vote early either in person or by post if on voting day you:
- are outside the electorate where you are enrolled to vote
- are more than eight kilometres from a polling place
- are travelling
- are unable to leave your workplace to vote on voting day
- are seriously ill, infirm or due to give birth shortly (or caring for someone who is)
- are a patient in hospital and can't vote at the hospital
- have religious beliefs that prevent you from attending a polling place
- are in prison serving a sentence of less than three years or otherwise detained
- are a silent elector
- have a reasonable fear for your safety or wellbeing.
You will be able to cast your vote at any polling place within your area. For a list of voting locations see the Australian Electoral Commission website.
When you arrive at a voting location you will receive a ballot paper with the proposed alteration to the Constitution on it, followed by a question asking if you approve the alteration. On the ballot paper you need to clearly write the word YES in the box if you approve the proposed alteration or NO.
Community Forums and Events
- Community Conversations - Fawkner Public Forum
Led by First Nations speakers and showcasing different perspectives within the First Nations community, this forum offers a unique opportunity for non-indigenous people to gain a deeper understanding of the upcoming referendum vote and support Aboriginal self-determination.Date: Tuesday 19 September 2023Find out more
Time: 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Location: CB Smith Pavilion Fawkner 79 Jukes Rd, Fawkner VIC 3060, Fawkner
- Why Yes? Why Now? Multicultural Communities and the Voice | ECCV Forum
What does the referendum mean? What does a First Nations Voice aim to achieve, why is it important and how will it affect multicultural communities?
Date: Monday, 25 September 2023
Time: 6pm - 8:30pm
Location: Coburg Town Hall | 90 Bell St, Coburg VIC 3058
- Understanding the Voice to Parliament
This session is run by Naarm Law Students on Voice.
Topics covered will include, a brief history of the proposed Voice Amendment, what the Ballot looks like, what happens if the amendment passes and more.
Date: Wednesday 4 October 2023
Time: Refreshments at 6.45 pm for a 7 pm start
Location: Coburg Library, Corner Victoria and Louisa Street,
Information in different languages
See the Australian Electoral Commission for information about The Voice to Parliament and voting in the referendum in language: