Submission on the Indigenous
Co-Design Process Interim Report
28 April 2021
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is a national voice in support
of people affected by poverty, disadvantage and inequality and the peak body
for the community services and civil society sector.
ACOSS consists of a network of approximately 4000 organisations and
individuals across Australia in metro, regional and remote areas.
Our vision is an end to poverty in all its forms; economies that are fair,
sustainable and resilient; and communities that are just, peaceful and
ACOSS seeks to support and work alongside First Nations peak and
representative bodies, to support the inclusion of Aboriginal Community
Controlled Organisations and First Nations peoples’ voices in decisions that
affect their lives.
ACOSS reiterates our strong support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s
call for ‘constitutional reforms to empower [First Nations] people and take a
rightful place in our own country’. It calls for a constitutionally guaranteed First
Nations Voice to provide advice to Parliament. The proposed body has no
voting rights and will not alter the make-up of the Australian Parliament, but it
will, for the first time, give First Nations peoples a Voice to Parliament.
We have seen the devastatingly negative effects of successive federal, state
and territory policies imposed on First Nations peoples; peoples who
consistently remind us they are the best able to address the current situation
affecting them, their families and communities. First Nations peoples are best
placed to explain the historic and ongoing intergenerational traumas of
European colonisation - the marginalisation, the hurts and all their
consequences. They have the solutions.
We urge governments to support institutional reform to hear the multiplicity of
First Nations voices and allow them to bring a rich and varied range of
proposals for constructive change to the table.
We do not want Australia to continue on a path of policies and associated
expenditure on interventions and activities that are proving ineffective in many
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Giving First Nations peoples a say in the decisions that affect their lives will
provide an opportunity for doing things differently and more productively, by
simply listening to the advice of people who are affected, and by allowing First
Nations peoples to claim their rightful place in the nation.
ACOSS calls on the Australian Government to support First Nations peoples’
Uluru Statement from the Heart and as a national priority act to:
Honour the Australian Government’s 2019 election commitment to a
referendum once a model for the Voice has been settled.
Pass enabling legislation for the Voice after a referendum has been held in the
next term of Parliament.
Ensure that the membership model for the National Voice gives previously
unheard First Nations people the same chance of being selected as established
ACOSS was able to prepare this submission thanks to the tireless efforts of
countless First Nations peoples in shaping a pathway for structural
empowerment, particularly Professor Megan Davis of the Uluru Statement
Dialogues and Dean Parkin of the From the Heart campaign.
Dr Cassandra Goldie
Chief Executive Officer
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