Supporting a Voice to Parliament

​​​​​​​For nearly 90 years Indigenous Australians have been calling for a voice in decision-making processes that affect them.

The most recent process led to the creation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017. This historic statement called for a First Nations Voice in the Australian Constitution and a ‘Makarrata Commission’ to supervise a process of agreement-making and truth telling. 

The Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) supports Australia’s First Nations peoples in seeking these two actions as it aligns with our values as a social justice organisation and our vision for an Australia free of poverty. In this pursuit, we accept the generous offer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to walk with them in a movement for a better future. 

This page contains information and resources of how we’re supporting this movement and how you can be involved or have the conversation to help others support it. 

Key Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Indigenous Constitutional Recognition and why is it important?
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been calling for recognition in Australia’s constitution for decades. While they were given the right to vote in federal elections in 1962, and the 1967 Referendum changed the Constitution so that laws could be made for everybody including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, there is still no formal recognition of our First Nations people in the Constitution. This is considered important because it is the document that formally governs the way our country runs. After more than 15 years of discussion and consultation, Indigenous representatives came together in 2017 to develop the Uluru Statement from Heart that called for a representative ‘Voice to Parliament’ as the first step for enshrining recognition of Indigenous people in our Constitution.

What is a Voice to Parliament?
A Voice to Parliament is an Indigenous representative body that provides advice to the Parliament and Government on laws and policies that have a particular impact on their families and communities.It provides a way of hearing the views and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when legislation is being drafted, when initiatives are being funded and when programs are being evaluated to see what impact they have had.

What difference will it make?
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will finally have a chance, through their representatives on the Voice, to have a say on decisions that impact their lives. While there have been different advisory bodies set up in the past, they haven’t been enshrined in the Constitution, so they have been established or shut down at the whim of the Government of the day. Being enshrined in the Constitution means that the Voice to Parliament will have long term legitimacy and impact

Will the Voice to Parliament have decision-making powers?
No. At the end of the day Parliament will still be the final decision-makers, but they will be required to take advice directly from First Nations people on issues that impact them. Governments will no longer have an excuse to say they didn’t have a way to get input from First Nations people.

How will the Voice to Parliament work?
The Government has committed to consulting with affected communities and involving them in the design details for how the Voice works. This is still being worked out by the Referendum Working Group and is supported by the Constitutional Expert Group that is giving legal advice on the referendum questions and the constitutional amendments that will be required.

Do First Nations People support constitutional recognition and a Voice to Parliament?
While not every First Nations Person supports a Voice to Parliament, the vast majority do. Importantly, these ideas come from those represented in the First Nations Regional Dialogues where twelve large meetings, or Dialogues, took place across Australia and culminated in a National Convention of over 250 delegates at Uluru in the heart of the country. Together those delegates conceived, wrote and signed the Uluru Statement from the Heart, agreeing to its components and reforms. It was an act of self-determination.

Why is BSL supporting the campaign for Constitutional Recognition and establishment of a Voice to Parliament?
There are many reasons that BSL supports these two actions, including alignment with our overall values and purpose as a social justice organisation and our vision for an Australia free of poverty. Most important is the fact that Indigenous people have themselves organised, consulted and determined that this is the best way forward to achieve change. We accept the generous offer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to walk with them in a movement for a better future.

How can I find out more about the campaigns for a Voice to Parliament
Places to find out more information and how to get involved include:




Education materials: