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Tearfund Australia - Submission to the Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process Interim Report

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Recently Tearfund made a joint submission to the federal government's ongoing exploration of what a First Peoples’ Voice to parliament might look like. We made the submission alongside some of our partners and with a number of other Christian organisations who work with First Peoples.

The submission called on the decision makers to ensure that:

  • The First Nations Voice is enshrined in the Constitution
  • The membership model ensures that there is adequate provision for community-focussed people to be selected/elected to the First Nations Voice.

Read Tearfund's joint submission

We were guided by the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the stories of Tearfund's partners as the submission was drafted.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart unequivocally calls for “constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country. We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.”1 This call was echoed in the submission.

We are very aware that the First Peoples organisations we partner with have deep insight into what their communities need. This is knowledge that should be readily available to whatever form the Voice ends up taking. The current proposed model has 18 representatives (two from each state or territory as well as the Torres Strait) and we do not think that that is enough to represent all First People. We would like to see the voices of grassroots organisations having a seat at the table of decision makers.

Professor Tom Calma AO, one of the Chairs of the current co-design process says, “an Indigenous voice for me is really an opportunity to be able to tell politicians, to tell the Government, to tell the Parliament what we as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people believe should happen and how Government policies and programs should really be designed, hearing our voice and making sure that we are the ones who come up with the solutions and present them to Government and not the other way around.”2

The other co-chair Professor Dr Marcia Langton AO says she wants “a more robust system, and I want Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to feel assured that their concerns are seriously considered by Parliament and by the Australian Government. This will affect whether or not we can close the gap on the many disadvantages that our people face in health, education, employment, housing, and so many other fields.”3

You can make your own submission up until April 31. Visit this site: