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Submission Number
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A Proposal to Simplify the Passage Ideas from Local and Regional Voices to the National Parliament

‘The Direct Input Model’

• What follows works within proposed national and regional voice structures. It addresses
only how the National Voice to Parliament might best be made to work. This proposal
therefore does not offer ideas on how Local and Regional Voices will interact with other
levels of government. (‘Regional Voice’ is used below to cover both Local and Regional
• So what is the problem to be fixed? I see information being lost when there is a filtering, or
amalgamation, of views at the regional level. I suspect Senators and House members would
like a Voice to Parliament to give them raw data, not a regional consensus, or the views of
regional chairs, even though chair opinions are ‘informed’ by their regional groups. The
same problem arises at National Voice level- what value is there in National Voice giving its
own views to Parliament, even though those views will be influenced by regional input? A
further difficulty arises if the election process of both Regional and National Voices attract
political-party based electioneering: input from a Voice may be directed by party heads to
merely reflect the policy position of the ‘winning’ party.
• The Proposal:
o The process would start by National Voice choosing which bills (or issues raised at
Parliamentary enquiries) require input from Regional Voices. Bills would be classed
by the National Voice as either major (from an Indigenous viewpoint) bills or lesser
bills. For lesser bills, Regional Voice input would be handled by the National Voice
alone, e.g. by submitting broad topics which should be addressed by Parliament to
cater for Indigenous viewpoints.
o For major bills, however, the National Voice would develop a series of questions in
the explanatory memorandum. The aim of these questions would be to allow each
member of Regional Voices the opportunity to provide opinions on the bill. Those
opinions, once amalgamated by a software package, would be the only input made
to the National Parliament (with the exception of a short summary added by the
National Voice-see below).
o Voice input into explanatory memoranda would follow the precedent set by the
current requirement for all bills to contain a statement of compatibility with human
o The Voice questions would be in multiple choice form, prepared by experts in
developing evaluation questions. (Private companies use such experts regularly to
gauge customer reaction to their products.). Questions could be in various forms-
examples: ‘How do you feel about Aspect A of the bill’?
 Strongly don’t like Neutral Strongly like
 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

And another example

‘Place the following in order of the importance to you in relation to
Aspect A of the bill’:
• Health
• Family cohesion
• Cost to your family
• Long term community benefit
• Impact on children’s education
• Personal freedoms
• Your own happiness and mental well being
• Impact on climate

o The response by individual Regional Voice members to the multiple choice questions
would be captured by smart phone or pc. (Web privacy controls would be required.)
o There would no input from Regional Voices meeting as a group, or from the chairs
(except through a chair’s right to participate as a member of that regional voice).
Nor would there be visibility of individual respondents to anyone. The aggregate of
regional responses (aggregated by the questionnaire provider’s software) would,
however, be visible to regional chairs. At a national level, there would be visibility to
both National Voice members, and Parliamentarians, of aggregate regional
responses, including from which area a particular aggregated regional response
o For parliamentary enquiries (and similar) which the National Voice felt that regional
input was appropriate, the National Voice would prepare multiple choice questions,
as for bills.
o National Voice could add a covering (max 600 words?) comment on, or assessment
of, the regional results, to be included with the summarized multiple choice data,
before it is made available to members of Parliament.
o Results of the regional input would be released initially only to members of the
Senate and the House of Reps. Results would then be formally released to the
media one month later, to allow Parliamentarians time to consider the implications
of the Voice data.
o The proposal would not entail the development of new software. Professional
questionnaire providers will have their own software that can fulfill the
requirements of a questionnaire-and-response process. Any attempt to change
current software to produce a Voice- bespoke version should be avoided, even if
that requires minor modifications to the proposed process.
• Advantages of this Direct Input Model:
o The structures put forward in the report ‘Indigenous Voice Stage 2’ are utilised.
o The value of regional opinions is maximised. Regional Voices would play an
important role in informing members of the issues involved in a particular bill.
o No problems or disputes should arise over the voting methods to be used at
Regional Voice level, as there will be no voting, no Regional Voice position.
o At National Voice also, problems in selecting voting methods will be reduced, as
there is no need to amalgamate inputs from Regional Voices- done automatically by
software. (Other aspects of the work of the National Voice may still require an
internal voting framework, e.g. selection of those aspects of a bill for which regional
input will be sought.)
o Standardisation of Regional Voice structures is not required. It does not matter if
the membership numbers of Regional Voices vary greatly, or if selection procedures
differ. Whoever is on a Regional Voice has a direct say.
o By developing the multiple choice questions, National Voice retains control and
oversight of the Voice to Parliament.