The Australian Human Rights Commission affirms its support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the proposed establishment of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament (Voice).
Ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a right to participation in decision making that affects them is fundamental to achieving better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For too long Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been denied a seat at the table on decisions that affect their daily lives.
The Commission acknowledges that there will be a diversity of views among the Australian community about the Voice proposal. Different views should be respected in this debate.
The reforms proposed in the Uluru Statement will require future federal governments to listen to the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when making decisions that relate to them. This does not take away from the responsibilities of government.
Instead, it contributes to creating a shared understanding, vision and partnership to the important issues facing our Indigenous communities, and will enhance the quality and impact of actions by government. In this way, all Australians will benefit from the Voice.
The Voice process also provides important acknowledgement of the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of these lands and waters.
Any national representative process that results from the Voice process should ensure that human rights to equality and non-discrimination are upheld – for example, by ensuring that national representative structures are built on gender equality and provide a voice to all within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The Commission looks forward to contributing to this design process in the event that the Referendum is successful.