Australians will vote on an Indigenous “Voice to Parliament”

Australians will vote on an Indigenous “Voice to Parliament"

Aboriginal flag/Shutterstock Images

23 February 2023, Canberra: Australians will have their say at a federal referendum later this year to include an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander “Voice to Parliament.”

The proposal by the Labor Party, elected to office in 2022, is to constitutionally recognise its Indigenous people through the establishment of a representative – ‘Voice to Parliament’ – that will provide non-binding advice to the parliament.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent about 3.2 per cent of the population. Nearly a million people and their ancestors have lived on the land for about 65,000 years. There are several hundred groups, histories, languages and traditions.

As with other cases of marginalised native groups in the world, Aboriginal people suffer higher rates of suicide, domestic violence and imprisonment than non-Indigenous people, and their life expectancy is eight years lower. The Voice to Parliament will give this community a formal forum to air views and advise the elected representatives on Indigenous—and non-Indigenous affairs.

The Australian newspaper poll indicates 56 per cent of voters would support the referendum, with 37 per cent opposing. Australia has so far only passed eight out of 19 referendums.

The last national vote by the public on legislation was the Marriage Amendment Act, amended to allow for same-sex marriage in December 2017. It was a postal survey that was in favour of the proposal.

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