This year, Australia will vote on a referendum to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament in our Constitution. The referendum takes its lead from the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart, which puts forward three pillars of action: Voice, Treaty and Truth. The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia (FECCA) has lent its full support to the Uluru Statement, which was endorsed by a record-breaking 900-plus delegates at the FECCA 2022 conference in Melbourne, co-hosted by ECCV.
As a member of FECCA, we are proud to also pledge our support for the Uluru Statement and affirm the importance of implementing all three pillars outlined in the Statement. Recognising First Peoples in the Australian Constitution is crucial, as is the need for Treaty-making and Truth-telling about this country’s colonial history and its ongoing effects for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today.
The upcoming referendum is an historic opportunity to achieve meaningful, structural change for First Peoples. We believe it’s time to walk together as a nation on the path to genuine reconciliation and the foundation of a fair and truthful Australia that future generations can build on and be proud of.
As the peak body for migrant and refugee communities in Victoria, ECCV acknowledges the importance of raising awareness amongst multicultural communities about the referendum and why Voice, Treaty and Truth matter. We are committed to promoting meaningful and respectful dialogue between our diverse communities and First Peoples.
We are grateful for the ongoing guidance of Reconciliation Victoria in this journey. We recognise and respect the diversity of opinions within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, however we believe there is widespread agreement on the Uluru Statement’s principles of sovereignty, justice and self-determination through Voice, Treaty and Truth. These principles are mutually supportive and should all be progressed.
We also acknowledge the inspiring leadership demonstrated in our state through the establishment of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, the Yoorrook Justice Commission and the Treaty Authority.
The pioneering work done to negotiate Treaty right here in Victoria shows us that the time for change is now. The referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for all Australians to walk, and work, together. The success of the referendum is a critical step in our national journey towards reconciliation, and lays the building blocks for a more just and inclusive Australia.
Following a series of dialogues between indigenous Australians held around the country, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples gathered at Uluru in 2017 to hold the historic First Nations National Constitutional Convention. The gathering produced the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which was officially released on May 26, 2017.
The Statement calls for:
- A First Nations’ Voice to be enshrined in the Australian Constitution
- A Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making (‘Treaty’ / ‘Treaties’) between governments and First Nations
- Truth-telling about our history
A Joint Parliamentary Sub-committee co-chaired by Senator Pat Dodson considered the Uluru Statement in the context of other proposals for constitutional reform, releasing a report recommending the Government explore the option of a ‘Voice to Parliament’ and initiate a process of co-design with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This was followed by an additional report prepared by Tom Calma and Marcia Langton on the Voice, recommending a structure with local, regional and national arrangements, with representation from remote Australia.
In September 2022, a Referendum Working Group and Referendum Engagement Group were formed. The role of the Referendum Working Group is to advise the Government on implementing a referendum. The role of the Referendum Engagement Group is to provide advice about building community understanding, awareness, and support for the referendum question.
In the 2022 Federal Election, the Australian Labor Party was elected and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced his commitment to a referendum to enshrine a Voice for First Nations Peoples in the Constitution.
In Victoria, the Daniel Andrews Labor Government has a long-held position to commit to all elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and has already made considerable progress towards Truth and Treaty. The First Peoples Assembly, an independent and democratically elected body of Traditional Owners and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, has been working for over three years to establish a framework for Treaty negotiations. ECCV is fully committed to this process in Victoria.
On 2 February 2023, leaders of the six states and territories signed a bipartisan statement of intent to support a Voice to Parliament.
To find out more, go to:
To read the Uluru Statement from the Heart in more than 80 languages, go to: