In 2023, Australia will vote to determine the fate of the First Nations Voice to Parliament.
The Voice bill passed the lower house in May, and on June 19, it passed the senate, which has officially triggered a referendum.
“Now the Australian people will have a chance to say yes,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tweeted at the time.
“Together, we can make history by enshrining recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our constitution.”
No official date for the referendum has been set yet, but it should occur within the next two to six months.
Here’s everything you need to know about The Voice referendum:
What is the Voice to Parliament?
Simply put, the Voice to Parliament would enshrine a permanent Indigenous voice to parliament in the Constitution.
The Voice to Parliament was proposed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart on May 26, 2017, by delegates to the First Nations National Constitutional Convention.
“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,” the Statement reads.
“We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.”
How would it work?
It would be an ‘advisory’ role and allow Indigenous Australians to advise the government and parliament on issues that directly impact their community, including native title, employment, and housing issues.
However, the government would not be forced to follow the Voice’s advice or consult it before making decisions.
If the vote passes, the proposed change to the Constitution is as follows:
1. There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
2. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the parliament and the executive government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
3. The parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.
What will it take to pass?
For a referendum to pass successfully, a double majority vote must be achieved. This means a majority of voters in a majority of states – at least four of the six states – must vote in favour. A national majority of voters would also need to vote in favour, so there is an overall majority for ‘yes’.
When will it happen?
There has been no date set so far, but it should happen within the next two to six months, with most political commentators predicting it will happen in November or December.