Vote YES for a Voice

Later this year, Australians will be asked a very important question: do you support an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution?

The upcoming referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to recognise First Nations Peoples and continue the nation’s journey towards meaningful reconciliation.

A Voice to Parliament would enable First Nations People to have input on government policies and projects that impact their lives – making a real and tangible difference.

An IPSOS poll conducted in January 2023 found 80 per cent of First Nations people support a Voice to Parliament.

The referendum is an opportunity for all Australians to stand shoulder to shoulder with First Nations Peoples and say ‘Yes’ to constitutional recognition and practical change through a Voice to Parliament.

What will the Voice look like?

The Voice will be an independent, representative advisory body for First Nations Peoples that will provide a permanent means to advise the Australian Parliament and government on the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on matters that affect them.

The First Nations Referendum Working Group agreed to a set of principles that describe how the Voice will work.

The Voice is a body that will:

  • provide independent advice to Parliament and government
  • be chosen by First Nations Peoples based on the wishes of local communities
  • be representative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • be empowering, community-led, inclusive, respectful, culturally informed and gender-balanced, and include young people
  • be accountable and transparent, and
  • work alongside existing organisations and traditional structures.

The Voice will not have a program delivery function, or a veto power.

What would a First Nations Voice to Parliament achieve?

A Voice to Parliament is about providing self-determination to First Nations Peoples.

Rather than symbolic gestures, a Voice would be a practical advisory body that provides feedback and advice to government about laws and policies affecting First Nations people.

If a Voice to Parliament was introduced, First Nations Peoples would be included in government law-making processes and enabled to provide practical advice on how laws and policies can best improve their lives.

Currently, there is no systemic process for First Nations Peoples to provide input on government policy-making.

This means laws and policies are often made for First Nations Peoples rather than with them.

If First Nations Peoples have a Voice, progress can finally be made on closing the gap after decades of missed goals and limited change.

Why are unions supporting the Voice to Parliament?

The union movement has a proud history of fighting for social justice and inclusion, not just in workplaces but in society more broadly, including through First Nations recognition and reconciliation.

Just like unions have campaigned for restitution of stolen wages and for the removal of laws that have forced many First Nations Peoples to work for free or below the legal minimum wage, the upcoming referendum is an opportunity to make change.

Union members are aware of the devastating consequences workers often face when they are not listened to by employers or when they do not have a say in matters directly affecting them.

Unionists also understand the difference they can make through collective action and know that activism does not stop at the door to their workplaces; the issues facing workers are indivisible from the issues facing communities.

Racial justice and First Nations justice is indivisible from economic justice, and not just because some of our members identify as First Nations Peoples.

The success of the union movement depends on the unity of the working class.

While First Nations Peoples are denied a meaningful say over the issues impacting them, the voice of the working class is diminished.

Fundamentally, that is why the union movement is supporting a Voice to Parliament; it will make a practical difference and start to deliver long overdue justice to First Nations Peoples.

How does a referendum work?

A referendum is the only way to change the Australian Constitution and can only be held after a Bill passes through Parliament outlining proposed changes to the Constitution.

All eligible Australians are then asked to vote on the proposed constitutional change.

If voters agree with the change, they write ‘Yes’ in a square on the ballot paper.

If they disagree, they write ‘no’.

A change to the constitution by referendum must be approved by a “double majority”.

This means that a national majority of voters in the states and territories (ie, more than half of all voters) and a majority of voters in a majority of states (ie, at least four out of six states) must be in favour of the change.

Is there enough information about the Voice?

Contrary to some claims, a wealth of information about the proposed Voice to Parliament is available.

The Voice was first proposed in the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The generous and gracious statement was developed after an elaborate consultation process with First Nations Peoples across the country.

In the five years since the Uluru Statement, a Senate Joint Select Committee has considered the proposal, returning a 264-page report in November 2018.

Subsequently, the Indigenous Co-Design Process Final Report was presented to the Federal Government in July 2021.

The 271-page report outlines options for how a Voice could operate.

Ultimately, as with any constitutional change approved by referendum, it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to implement the change effectively and in keeping with the will of the Australian people.

United for Yes

IEU members around Australia can support the campaign for a Yes vote at the upcoming referendum. Following are some ways members can help.

Pledge to vote Yes

Sign up and pledge to vote Yes so you can be among the first to know about campaign news, actions, training and events.

Enrol to vote

Check your voter enrolment status. All eligible voters are required to vote in the referendum. And remember, 16- and 17-year-olds can enrol now so they are ready to vote after turning 18.

Start conversations

Initiate positive conversations with friends, family and colleagues about the importance of a Yes vote for a Voice to Parliament as the next step towards reconciliation.

Speaking guides and conversation frameworks are available online through the official Yes23 website.

You can read more about the Voice, purchase supporter merchandise and get involved with the campaign for a Yes vote at