of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice
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 following are the design principles of the Voice to Parliament agreed by the First Nations Referendum Working Group:
A. The Voice will give independent advice to the Parliament and Government
- The Voice would make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- The Voice would be able to make representations proactively.
- The Voice would be able to respond to requests for representations from the Parliament and the Executive Government.
- The Voice would be independent and have its own resources to allow it to research, develop and make representations.
- The Parliament and Executive Government should seek representations in writing from the Voice early in the development of proposed laws and policies.
B. Will be chosen by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based on the wishes of local communities
- Members of the Voice would be selected by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, not appointed by the Executive Government.
- Members would serve on the Voice for a fixed period of time, to ensure regular accountability to their communities.
- To ensure cultural legitimacy, the way that members of the Voice are chosen would suit the wishes of local communities and would be determined through the post-referendum process.
C. Will be representative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, gender balanced and include youth
- Members of the Voice would be Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, according to the standard three part test.
- Members would be chosen from each of the states, territories and the Torres Strait Islands.
- The Voice would have specific remote representatives as well as representation for the mainland Torres Strait Islander population.
- The Voice will have balanced gender representation at the national level.
D. Will be empowering, community-led, inclusive, respectful and culturally informed
- Members of the voice would be expected to connect with – and reflect the wishes of – their communities.
- The Voice would consult with grassroots communities and regional entities to ensure its representations are informed by their experience, including the experience of those who have been historically excluded from participation.
E. 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.
F. Will work alongside existing organisations and traditional structures
- The Voice would respect the work of existing organisations.
G. Will not have a program delivery function
- The Voice would be able to make representations about and propose efficiencies for programs and funding, but it would not manage money or deliver services.
H. Will not have a veto power
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 processes to ensure adequate scrutiny by elected representatives in both houses of Parliament.Referendum Working Group Communications