Referendum on the First Nations Voice to Parliament
The Referendum for the First Nations Voice to Parliament will be held on Saturday the 14th of October, with two weeks of pre-polling. The Greens support the Yes vote at the referendum, and encourage anyone wanting to be a part of the campaign to connect with the official non-partisan Yes23 organisation. My office is proud to support their amazing work. You can join the Ryan for Yes team by signing up on their website and they will be in touch about actions you can take. The Greens are also mobilising our supporters to contribute to the Yes campaign.
For too long, First Nations people have been ignored when governments have made policies that directly affect their land, families, and communities. This approach is failing people.
The Voice is about making sure First Nations people are listened to when the Government creates policies that directly affect them.
A strong YES result could kick off a decade of change for First Nations people. If an overwhelming majority of people vote YES, then governments are more likely to enact the policies that First Nations people have been fighting for for decades.
The Greens are fighting for transformative change including for Truth-telling, Treaty, protecting Country, justice and stopping deaths in custody.
This fight doesn’t start or end with a successful referendum, but we cannot let this referendum fail. If we fail, we go backwards.
About the Referendum
The question of the referendum is "A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?"
"In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:
- There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
- 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;
- 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."
Be wary of misinformation about the Voice to Parliament and about voting in the referendum - unlike in an election, there is a single box where you must write "Yes" or "No" for your vote to count. You can find out more about the referendum at the official Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) website here.
Voting in the referendum
The referendum is managed by the Australian Electoral Commission. The formal commencement of the referendum took place on Monday 11 September, so postal voting is now open.
- The electoral rolls close at 6pm Monday 18 September.
- Early voting commences in Queensland on Tuesday 3 October.
- Postal vote applications close 6pm Wednesday 11 October.
- Referendum Day is Saturday 14 October.
- Last day for receipt of postal votes is Friday 27 October.
On 14 October, polling places will be open between 8am and 6pm, local time. You can cast your vote at any polling place within your state, but if you're interstate on polling day and need to cast your vote, you will need to visit a designated interstate voting centre. Mobile voting teams will attend homeless shelters, residential facilities and prisons progressively from 2 October. People who are vision-impaired can vote by phone from 2 October.
Postal votes are available to anyone who can't make it to a polling booth to vote in person, either during early voting or on the day of the referendum. You can apply for a postal vote online. The AEC will send out postal vote packs after the rolls close on 18 September. Postal vote applications close at 6pm on the Wednesday before the election. If you vote by post, remember to return your vote as soon as possible!
Voting in a referendum is not compulsory for Australians who are overseas. If you are overseas and unable to vote you should complete and submit an overseas notification form. If you want to vote while overseas you can apply for a postal vote and return your vote to the nearest Australian embassy or consulate on this list. In-person voting is also available at all the locations listed. Australians in Antarctica can vote by phone.
To contact the AEC from overseas, call +61 2 6160 2600
Uluru Statement from the Heart
The Greens support the Uluru Statement, and were the first party to support it in full. The Uluru Statement calls for Truth-telling and Treaty as well as a Voice to Parliament, and through negotiations with the government, the Greens secured funding for a Makarrata Commission to progress Truth and Treaty in this term of Parliament.
All elements of the Uluru Statement are important to addressing ongoing colonisation in this country, healing the wounds of the past and progressing true equality and justice into the future.
Other Steps in the Fight for First Nations Justice
Beyond the Voice and the other aspects of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, it is crucial that the government not wait to begin making material improvements in First Nations People's lives. One key step that the Greens have been advocating for is implementing all the recommendations from the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the 1997 Bringing Them Home Report. It is a shame of successive governments to have ignored these recommendations.
Targeted support for First Nations communities is critical, and universal public services like improving Medicare and putting a GP in every community, more public housing, and making childcare & education truly free would provide significant support for people who need it most. In a wealthy country like Australia, we can close the gap and provide what everyone needs to live a good life.
At a state level, my Greens colleague Michael Berkman has campaigned strongly to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14. This would help address the overrepresentation of First Nations kids who are mistreated by the system and kept in inhumane conditions in watch houses and prisons, which only drives recidivism. Michael proposed an alternative model based on prevention through universal social services, early intervention, and targeted responses for low-level and harmful behaviours, with state supervision as a last resort. Michael's bill was ignored by Qld Labor, who continue to violate human rights with their treatment of young people in watch houses and prisons.