Sydney NSW 2000
Dear Co-Design Body
Co-design process: Submission for Neeharika Maddula
I am a woman of colour and an Australian who grew up on the land of the Wangal people
and lives and works as a solicitor on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation –
stolen land where sovereignty was never ceded.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
As someone who is not a First Nations person, I feel it is incumbent on me to show my
support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the three fundamental changes it
calls for: Voice, Treaty and Truth. The Statement is important because it recognises the
impact of the atrocities inflicted on First Nations people in this country and redefines the
relationship between institutions of power and the First Nations people on terms set by
and for First Nations peoples.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
This is a long overdue shift from the status quo of this relationship whereby First Nations
people have been deliberately and systematically prevented kept from self-determination
and meaningful participation in the government of this nation.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
A First Nations Voice to Parliament, protected by the Constitution is an essential step
towards ensuring that First Nations people are not just able to have a say in the
decisions that affect them, but have meaningful and real authority over these decisions.
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution,
rather than include it only in legislation?
The Voice should be constitutionally enshrined in order to guarantee protection of the
Voice by the Constitution and ensure it cannot be politicised or abolished by
governments to follow. This is the only form of constitutional recognition supported by
First Nations peoples. Past experience has shown that legislated representative bodies
such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, established in 1990 and
abolished in 2005, are subject to political whim. Enshrining the Voice in the Constitution
ensures that the Voice is recognised as an enduring priority for governments to come.
Only once the Voice has been enshrined in the constitution is it necessary to formulate
legislation to set out the required functions, powers and processes. In line with the spirit
of enshrining the Voice in the Constitution, it is essential that resourcing is not politicised
and subject to the political will of short term governments. Legislation must ensure the
Voice is adequately resourced.
The membership and structure of the Voice should be a matter for First Nations people
to determine themselves. The scope of the Voice should not be restricted to laws
introduced under s 51(xxvi) of the Constitution (the race power) and section 122 (the
P:\G+T Templates\Office_2016_Templates\Templates\Blank.docx page | 1
territories power). Limiting the Voice in this way does not acknowledge the full scope of
legislation that may have particular or special impact on First Nations peoples. Further,
the Voice should have the capacity to commission and independently manage its own
policy and legal advice, including the capacity to determine whether advice that they give
of their own initiative should be tabled in Parliament.
P:\G+T Templates\Office_2016_Templates\Templates\Blank.docx page | 2