Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


Where to next for the Uluru Statement

  • 20 May 2019


The likely return of the Morrison government coincides with the second anniversary of the declaration of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The commencement of a new term of government also heralds the start of the nuts and bolts work of designing a referendum to implement a Voice to Parliament.

A Voice to Parliament is a proposal arising from the work of the Indigenous steering committee of the Referendum Council, and a series of regional dialogues. The dialogues in turn culminated in a clear statement by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians about meaningful institutional reform supporting Indigenous Australians' explicit inclusion in the national polity.

This is the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The statement is an invitation to us all to walk with Indigenous Australians 'in a movement of the Australian people for a better future'. The proposal is for Voice, treaty, and truth.

The first step forward is establishment of a body known as a Voice to Parliament. The purpose of this body is to provide Parliament and government with its view on matters affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The proposal is to establish the Voice through the Australian Constitution. However, Parliament would expressly retain power to legislate the detail of the Voice.

The proposed new body provides a mechanism for communication from Indigenous Australians to the institutions that enact legislation and policy that affect their lives. It addresses a key concern in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs.

With considerable funding devoted to programs aimed at Indigenous Australians, many complain that there is little evidence of positive impact. This problem arises from the exclusion of Indigenous communities from contributing to their own solutions. The Voice will provide a conduit through which to inform Parliament and government agencies of the views and experiences of Indigenous Australians themselves — a core component of better legislation and policy-making. This is a win for all Australians.

Although some have claimed that the proposal would establish 'a third chamber of Parliament', this is incorrect. The Voice will have no decision-making power, and no right of veto over legislation. It is not a chamber of Parliament. As a constitutional amendment, however, the proposal must first be passed by referendum: a majority of Australians in a majority of states. Once passed, the Parliament would make laws to set up the new body, and to provide for the specifics of its operation.


"All Australians are still waiting for the full