From The Heart, the campaign for First Nations constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament, has welcomed the government’s commitment to retain $160 million in contingency funding for a referendum on constitutional recognition in the 2023 Federal Budget.
From The Heart also welcomes Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s commitment to a constitutionally-enshrined Indigenous Voice to Parliament in his budget reply speech.
Dean Parkin, From the Heart campaign director, said: “There is nothing more important in this next term of Parliament than a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
“For 15 years we have been talking about constitutional recognition. We have long-running bi-partisan commitments to a referendum on constitutional recognition.
“The only way we can achieve this is through an Indigenous Voice to Parliament that is included in the Constitution.
“Australians know this is a fair go and it’s time we finally put it to the people in a referendum in the next term of Parliament.”
A First Nations Voice to Parliament is a simple and practical change that gives the best chance for finally closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
When Indigenous peoples have a real say on issues that affect them, they get better results on the ground in key areas, such as health and education.
A referendum on constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians was first proposed by John Howard in 2007, and has been supported by every Prime Minister since.
The funding for a referendum, first provisioned in the 2016 Federal Budget, is contained in the government’s Contingency Reserve.
Wakka Wakka man and Chair of the ACSQ Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group, The Rev’d Canon Bruce Boase, said that he is pleased with the recent Federal Budget and Budget reply announcements, which show bi-partisan support for a referendum on constitutional recognition.
“The Coalition’s 2023 Federal Budget and Labor’s Budget reply demonstrate that our nation’s leaders are listening to what the great majority of Australian people are saying – that they want a fair go for our First Peoples,” Canon Bruce said.
“While a referendum on constitutional recognition for our First Peoples was proposed nearly 15 years ago by Prime Minister Howard, and has been backed by successive Prime Ministers, we still need to bring together this proposal with the call for a First Nations Voice that is included in the Constitution.
“Significantly, the final report of the Federal Government’s Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process stated that nearly 90 per cent of the more than 4,000 submissions supported a constitutional guarantee for this Voice.
“This constitutional amendment will ensure that First Nations leaders are effectively heard in the sectors that most affect their people, including in the critical areas of health, education, employment, justice and housing.
“Ensuring this constitutional guarantee will help provide our First Nations leaders and their communities with stability and longevity in these critical areas, particularly across election cycles and changes of Government.
“This stability and longevity are essential if we are to effectively close the health and life expectancy gap.
“Relationships are fundamental to our identity as Christians.
“So let’s leave a legacy that we can be proud of by respecting one another and honouring each other’s basic rights.”
Inspired by the Uluru Statement From the Heart, in April last year, the Anglican Church Southern Queensland made a submission in support of the call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution.Jump to next article