2745

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Submission Number
2745
Participant
Emma Maple-Brown
Submission date
Main Submission Automated Transcript

Submission to the Interim Voice Report – Emma Maple-Brown – 29 April 2021

My name is Emma Maple-Brown and I am a lawyer and mother. As someone whose career has
largely focused on working in the area of human rights law and supporting and assisting vulnerable
and disadvantaged clients I strongly support and endorse the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The process which the Referendum Council undertook to conduct dialogues with Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people from communities across Australia to determine what recognition
would look like to them led to the historic consensus expressed in the Uluru Statement from the
Heart. The grace with which these communities extended their hands to the Australian people to
walk together gives me much hope that together we can work towards a better future. A future in
which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will have a genuine and permanent say on laws
and matters which affect them directly.

After working for some years on law reform and in the area of transitional justice, I know that the
most effective change and reform comes from genuinely listening to the people who are most
deeply affected. For this reason, I am concerned about suggestions that an appropriate response to
the Uluru Statement from the Heart would be to put in place a legislated Voice. The Dialogues made
clear that to be effective and fulfill its purpose the Voice needs to be enshrined in the Constitution. It
cannot be a vehicle subject to the whim of the government of the day. It is important that we listen
and do not ignore the voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who worked
tirelessly towards the Uluru Statement from the Heart. If we listen to those voices, it is abundantly
clear that the Voice must be enshrined. Anything less than that will merely be symbolic and not
accord with the wishes of First Nations peoples.

I am concerned that Prime Minister Morrison has expressed a view that he is not convinced that the
Australian people wish to go to a referendum on the question of an enshrined Voice to Parliament
for First Nations people. It is for this reason that I have written this submission – to show our current
government that there is a real and genuine desire from many Australian people to accept the
invitation expressed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and to enshrine a Voice for First Nations
people in our Constitution. I believe the Australian people must be allowed to show their support
through a national referendum and that referendum will provide crucial authority and legitimacy to
the Voice by the Australian people.

I therefore fully support the Uluru Statement leadership in saying:

1. The Government must honour its election commitment to a referendum once a model for the
Voice has been settled to ensure that a First Nations Voice 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; and

3. The membership model for the National Voice must ensure previously unheard Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people have the same chance of being selected as established leadership
figures.