30 April 2021
National Indigenous Australians Agency
PO Box 2191 Canberra ACT 2600
Submission: Voice Co-Design Process
I am a solicitor working in the community legal sector, where I provide legal services to
vulnerable people through a Health Justice Partnership at Dental Hospital. The
Partnership works predominantly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who
are particularly at risk of poor health and unmet legal need.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an important expression of self-determination by
the First Nations people of Australia. It lays out a vision for substantive and structural
reform, namely, the establishment of a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament and
a Makarrata Commission 'to supervise a process of agreement-making between
governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history'.
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 to Parliament must be enshrined in the Australian Constitution not only because
this is the only proposal for constitutional recognition that has received broad support from
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but also to ensure that the Voice to
Parliament has the legitimacy and stability it needs to carry out its functions.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
A Voice to Parliament would allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide
meaningful input to law- and policy-making and improve outcomes for their communities.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to experience racial discrimination
and other human rights violations in many spheres of life. They have shorter life
expectancy, higher rates of infant mortality, poorer health and lower levels of education
and employment and these disparities are linked to systemic discrimination.
There is clearly a need for urgent, fundamental reform. A First Nations advisory body to
the Australian Government and Parliament would be best placed to guide such reform.
I therefore ask that the Australian Government:
1. honour its election commitment to a referendum once a model for the Voice has
2. pass enabling legislation for the Voice after a referendum has been held in the next
term of Parliament; and
3. ensure that the membership model for the National Voice is such that previously
unheard Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the same chance of
being selected as established leadership figures.