Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament

On this page…

  • Information about the Voice proposal and TasCOSS’s position;
  • A Policy Conversation on the Voice to learn more about how we arrived at our position, the Voice proposal, what it means, and how you can support the Uluru Statement from the Heart; and
  • Information and resources on the Voice from across the community services industry.

On Saturday 14 October 2023, Australians will be asked if we agree to change the Constitution to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

The referendum on the Voice emerged from the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which invites all Australians to walk together to build a better future by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament in the Constitution and engaging in treaty making and truth-telling.

All three elements of the Uluru Statement align with TasCOSS’s purpose to challenge and change the systems, behaviours and attitudes that create poverty, inequality and exclusion.

TasCOSS accepts the invitation of the Uluru Statement to walk together towards a more inclusive future and supports a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum, and encourages non-Aboriginal people to do the same.

We believe a strong and independent Voice to Parliament, designed by First Nations communities and connected to existing Aboriginal organisations and leaders who have long been working to promote and protect the rights and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, is a important step on the long journey to proper acknowledgement of our dark history and its impact on our first and ongoing custodians.

In developing our position, we have listened to the many Aboriginal experts and leaders in our community and have reflected on our role as a peak body. We accept there are diverse views in relation to the Voice within the Aboriginal community, and also acknowledge the concerns expressed by Aboriginal people about the referendum process and the stress it is causing their communities. 

We also recognise and support Aboriginal community organisations in determining and responding to the issues most important to them. Alongside our support for the Voice, we also commit to ongoing support for the work and advocacy of Aboriginal community organisations around initiatives, policies and practices that will Close the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, such as the progression of Treaty and the process of Truth-Telling. 

TasCOSS believe it is important for the community services industry to familiarise themselves with the Voice proposal, and engage in conversations that are respectful, inclusive and well-informed.

We are also conscious that the public discussion about the Voice, and the outcome of the referendum have the potential to be very distressing for Aboriginal people, and we urge community services organisations to support Aboriginal staff members and the communities they work with during this challenging time. The Pledge to Champion a Respectful Referendum is an excellent resource.

Policy Conversation: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament

Want to learn more about the Voice proposal, what it means, and how TasCOSS arrived at their position?

On Wednesday 6 September 2023, TasCOSS held a Policy Conversation with our members, where we outlined our position on the Voice and the process we undertook to reach it, FAQs around the Voice proposal and what it will achieve, and how you and your organisation can stay informed and lend support to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Watch the recording (YouTube video).

The session was facilitated by TasCOSS CEO, Adrienne Picone, and Manager Community Services Development, Simone Zell.

Information and Resources

You can also read TasCOSS’s formal position statement and background paper on the Voice, which provides a brief overview of the proposed reforms and some history in relation to the concept of the Voice, as well as information about the process TasCOSS undertook to develop our position.

Reconciliation Tasmania are hosting free, in-house workshops for organisations on Understanding the Voice. The facilitated workshops are informed by resources developed by Reconciliation Tasmania and examine lutruwita/Tasmania’s history, the Uluru Statement; and the Constitution and referendum process. They are focussed on giving participants quality, factual information so everyone can make an informed and considered choice on the Voice — they are not affiliated with either the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ campaign and won’t involve suggesting how people should vote. If you’re interested and wish to enquire about making a booking, please email bookings@rectas.com.au.

Yes23 have also developed a number of informative campaign resources and factsheets. If you’re looking to become proactively involved, you can sign-up to join one of the Yes23 campaign groups in Tasmania, which are broken down by region/electorate (e.g. Clark for ‘Yes’ Group which includes the municipalities of Hobart and Glenorchy).

Together, Yes is a kitchen table conversations movement in support of a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum on an Voice to Parliament. Kitchen Table Conversations are a way to engage people in respectful and honest dialogue about a specific issue that builds knowledge, sharpens insight and creates real and lasting change. Register your interest and find out more about hosting a Kitchen Table Conversation in your local community.

To familiarise yourself with the Voice proposal and referendum, please also check out these excellent resources from across the community services industry: