30 April 2021
Dear Voice Secretariat
Submission to support a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution
Thank you for this opportunity to make a submission to the Indigenous Voice Co-Design
Process in response to the Interim Report to the Australian Government.
I write this submission to express my support for the constitutional change called for in the Uluru
Statement from the Heart: a First Nations Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the Australian
I was born and grew up on the land of the Darug people, as a child of refugees to this country. I
now live and work on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, as a lawyer. I am proud
to work for an organisation that loudly supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart. This
submission reflects my personal support for a constitutionally-enshrined First Nations Voice to
Parliament, as a non-Indigenous man from a Chinese background.
In my experience as a lawyer, and formerly as a federal public servant, I have seen and
continue to see the failures of successive governments to improve the lives and dignity of
Indigenous, and especially Aboriginal, peoples. Not only in the overrepresentation of Aboriginal
people in out-of-home care, criminal justice systems and deaths in custody, but also in the lack
of funding and culturally-appropriate services, the failures in addressing systemic racism and
discrimination, the ongoing and lengthy battles in recognising native title and providing for
compensation for stolen lands and the failures in remedying the generational effects of
dispossession and injustice.
To borrow from the Uluru Statement from the Heart, it is time – well beyond time – to end the
‘torment of our powerlessness’.
This must begin with a constitutionally-enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament. The
longstanding failures to address injustices towards First Nations peoples point to the need for a
Voice to Parliament. It would show progress towards both symbolic – and importantly –
substantive change. Indigenous voices must be heard in all matters that affect them.
The First Nations Voice must be constitutionally enshrined to ensure that the presence of
Indigenous voices is not subject to the whim of the government of the day, as would be the case
in any legislated model. It is also an important symbol, that Indigenous peoples are central to
and a core part of our country, not an afterthought.
The First Nations Voice should reflect the diversity of First Nations peoples across Australia.
Details on the structure and membership of the Voice to Parliament, which the Interim Report
addresses, can appropriately be contained in enabling legislation, after a referendum has been
held. The referendum on the First Nations Voice should not be held up by these details.
For these reasons, I fully support the Uluru Dialogue and submit that:
1. The Government must honour its election commitment to a referendum once a model for
the First Nations Voice has been settled to ensure that a First Nations Voice to
Parliament is protected by the Constitution.
2. Enabling legislation for the Voice must be passed after a referendum has been held in
the next term of Parliament.
3. The membership model for the Voice must ensure previously unheard Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people have the same chance of being selected as established