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Submission Number
Cameron Ong
Submission date
Main Submission File
Main Submission Automated Transcript

27 April 2021
Voice Secretariat
Reply Paid 83380

By email: Co-designVoice@niaa.gov.au

Submission in Response to the Indigenous Voice Discussion Paper

I am humbled to make this submission in response to the Indigenous Voice
Discussion Paper. I support the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart in the
strongest terms. The views expressed in this submission are that of my own
personal opinions.

I support the key positions outlined by From the Heart in their 21 January 2021
submission (#6):
• That a referendum must be held once a model for the Voice has been
• That enabling legislation for the Voice must be passed after a
referendum has been held in the next term of Parliament.
• That the membership model for the National Voice must ensure
previously unheard First Nations people have the same chance of being
selected as established leadership figures.

While the terms of reference for the co-design process excluded the
consideration of constitutional enshrinement of the Voice, I must declare that
the call for constitutional enshrinement of the Voice in the 2017 Uluru
Statement from the Heart is emphatic and a call that I hear clearly. I commend
submission #38 of 22 January 2021 prepared by public lawyers and eminent
legal experts to the Senior Advisory Group and Co-design Groups on the matter
of constitutional enshrinement.

Regarding the membership model of the National Voice, I defer to First Nations
people participating in the co-design process. However, I support all efforts to
ensure previously unheard First Nations people have material membership in
the National Voice. The current proposal makes progress on this front with
guaranteed gender balance.

I note that the co-design process has considered youth and disability
representation in the form of advisory groups, though further progress could be
achieved with more consideration of measures to ensure under-represented
First Nations people have equitable access in selection for membership. The
communication and access needs of First Nations people with disability,
communities such as Deaf First Nations people, must be structured into the
Voice; noting these needs have been given some consideration in the co-design
process itself.

The co-design process should consider how governance, resourcing and
accountability arrangements will be established for the National Voice, with
the aim of guaranteeing adequate and perpetual resourcing to perform its

Should the National Voice be established as a constitutional body that is further
supported by enabling legislation, the National Voice may be prescribed as a
statutory entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability
Act 2013 (PGPA Act), likely receive some form of annual or special
appropriations and may be subject to annual reporting requirements under the
PGPA Act or other accountability processes like Senate Estimates.

The consequences of such governance arrangements should be examined
through the perspective of concrete enshrinement of the Voice into the future
and ensuring adequate resourcing for the Voice, should the government of the
day change over time. The interactions of Local and Regional Voices with the
National Voice’s governance arrangements should also inform the final
governance design. As part of these considerations, the co-design process could
examine entities such as the Australian National Audit Office and the
Parliamentary Budget Office as models of entities that report directly to the
Parliament, looking at the advantages and disadvantages of such

The Uluru Statement from the Heart should be remembered as a defining
moment, where I and many others accepted the invitation of First Nations
people walk with them and create the future where the First Nations Voice is
heard clearly and where Makarrata is reality. I wish the greatest of successes to
all those involved in the co-design process and look forward to final design and
the next step in this journey.

Yours sincerely

Cameron Ong