NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: The Voice Edition

The image in the feature tile is the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The Voice Edition is to acknowledge the significance of the upcoming referendum and what might be achieved through a collective Voice enshrined in the constitution. It is also to acknowledge the tension and challenges being experienced by our community.

Today’s edition is a curated list of top resources that may be useful in your individual and collective referendum journey.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

What would a Voice do? And what happens if the referendum passes?

The Voice will give independent advice to the Parliament and Government.

  • A Voice to Parliament will be a permanent body to make representations to the Australian Parliament and the Executive Government on legislation and policy of significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • It will further the self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by giving them a greater say on matters that affect them.

The Voice will be chosen by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based on the wishes of local communities.

  • Members would serve on the Voice for a fixed period of time, to ensure regular accountability to their communities.
  • Members of the Voice would be Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Members would be chosen from each of the states, territories, and the Torres Strait Islands.
  • Members of the Voice would be expected to connect with – and reflect the wishes of their communities.

The Voice will be accountable and transparent.

  • The Voice would be subject to standard governance and reporting requirements to ensure transparency and accountability.
  • Voice members would fall within the scope of the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
  • Voice members would be able to be sanctioned or removed for serious misconduct.

The Voice will work alongside existing organisations and traditional structures.

  • The Voice would respect the work of existing organisations.
  • The Voice would be able to make representations about improving programs and services, but it would not manage money or deliver services.
  • The Voice will not have a veto power.

What happens if the referendum passes?

  • After the referendum, there will be a process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the Parliament and the broader public to settle the Voice design.
  • Legislation to establish the Voice will then go through standard parliamentary process to ensure adequate scrutiny by elected representatives in both houses of Parliament.

Read more here.

Australian Government Voice to Parliament factsheet.

Frequently asked questions answered by the Uluru Statement from the Heart

What is the Uluru Statement from the Heart and how is it linked to the Voice?

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is the culmination of 13 Regional Dialogues with First Nations people which arrived at a consensus about what constitutional recognition should look like. The Statement is an invitation from First Nations people to all Australians. One of its key features is to ask Australians to support meaningful constitutional recognition through providing a First Nations Voice.

Why do we need to change the Constitution? Why can’t it be an ordinary act of Parliament?

Since 1967 federal governments have required a mechanism like a voice to support its work in the Indigenous policy space. The government needs to know who to talk to on issues that affect First National people. Each of the five previous mechanisms which have been set up by parliamentary processes for this purpose have been abolished by successive governments cancelling programs, policies, and investment with the stroke of a pen. This chopping and changing according to election cycles has contributed to the ongoing disadvantage experienced by many First Nations people. If the Voice was enshrined in the Constitution, it could not be abolished without significant public scrutiny, giving the government of the day a strong incentive to work with First Nations people and ensure their advice and input is heard.

Why is the Voice needed when there are already First Nations members of Parliament?

First Nations members of parliament are elected to represent their electorates – this is the fundamental basis of our representative democracy. They speak for their constituents and represent the political party under which they are elected. Those who participated in the Regional Dialogues do not want to join political parties, they do not want to be politicians. They devote their lives to improving outcomes in their communities and they want a say in matters that impact them.

Read more here and the full Uluru Statement from the Heart here.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart

How to report false and misleading information about the Voice

RMIT University has established a FactLab which aims to ensure the historic Voice referendum is not derailed by false and misleading information.

RMIT has signed an MOU with SBS who, along with the public, commercial and community media across Australia, join the online CrossCheck hub. CrossCheck pre-emptively identifies false claims, provides prebunks, give daily alerts and reports to its media hub so journalists can better inform their audiences.

A key initiative is the creation of a tipline for the public to report information they have doubts about. Members of the public can email to report possible false and misleading information they see in social media feeds, are sent in chat apps, or receive in letter boxes.

Find out more here. You can also read 7 common confusions about Voice to Parliament and racial equality in Australia, explained here.

Image source: RMIT University.

Are your electoral roll details up to date?

Are you enrolled to vote?

To vote in referendums, like the Voice to Parliament, or any federal election, you need to be enrolled in the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

If you’re not enrolled, go here to find out what you need to do:

You will need identification documents which can include a driver’s license, Australian passport number, Medicare care number, Australia citizenship number, or have someone who is enrolled confirm your identity.

If you are already on the electoral roll for federal elections, you DO NOT need to enrol again to vote in a referendum. You DO need to have your details, i.e., your current address, accurate and up to date ahead of the referendum.

You can check your details, including where you’re enrolled to vote on the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) website. It’s important to have the details of your current address accurate and up to date ahead of the referendum.

You can also fill in physical forms which are available online or from an AEC office and return them to the AEC office.

Image Source: ABC Perth.

6 ways to look after yourself and mob during the Voice referendum debate

13-Yarn and Anti-Discrimination NSW collaborated to produce a ‘referendum resilience resource’ called 6 ways to look after yourself and mob during the Voice referendum debate:

  1. Create safe boundaries

You don’t need to be an expert on the Voice. Encourage people to visit to get the facts.

  1. Use your voice

You can report race discrimination or racial vilification to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

  1. Look out for others

Have a yarn with someone who might be struggling.

  1. Get outdoors

Get some fresh air. Go for a walk. Go on Country.

  1. Mute the noise

You don’t have to watch every ad or read every news story. Remember you can mute, unfollow, or hide social media posts.

  1. Reach out

If you are feeling worried or no good, connect with family and community. Or phone 13 YARN on tel:139276 (24 hours/7 days) and talk with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter.

You can also see your local ACCHO, AMS, GP, or social and emotional wellbeing service for mental health support. See below for more services and support.

Read the referendum resilience resource here.

6 ways to look after yourself and mob during the Voice referendum debate poster

Self-determination in action.

What is self-determination?

Self-determination is an ongoing process of ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are able to make decisions about matters that affect their lives. Essential to the exercise of self-determination is choice, participation, and control.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) confirms that Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination under international law. This means Australia is obliged to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a say about their social, political, cultural, and economic needs.

Mainstream health services have consistently failed to effectively engage Aboriginal people and communities. ACCHOs have been established and proven to deliver holistic, comprehensive, and culturally safe primary healthcare services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. ACCHOs provide flexible and responsive services to address the socio-economic determinants of health that are specific to their region. They support the social, emotional, physical, and cultural wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, families, and communities, far beyond the mainstream definitions of ‘health.’

ACCHOs demonstrate that community-control over services, activities and programs is essential to self-determination.

Read more here. For the Australian Human Rights Commission full Voice Referendum Resource Kit go here.

NACCHO members map.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

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