On Thursday, 29 September 2022, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Special Envoy for Reconciliation and the Implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Attorney General, and the Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians met with the Referendum Engagement Group (the Group) for the first time.
The historic gathering of the Referendum Engagement Group brought together more than 60 First Nations leaders and representatives of key organisations from across Australia.
An important part of the Referendum Engagement Group’s role will be to engage with communities to build understanding, awareness and support for a successful referendum.
The Prime Minister attended the meeting and spoke of the Government’s commitment to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including holding a referendum to enshrine the Voice in the Australian Constitution within this term of government.
The Prime Minister emphasised the gift of 60,000 years of culture to Australia, and the improved outcomes when First Nations people have a say on the policy and programs affecting them.
The Engagement Group discussed what more could be done to ensure Australians understand the Voice, and how best to build support in communities.
The Group highlighted that First Nations people have a unique place in the shared history of this country, and invite all Australians on the journey of understanding.
The Group acknowledged the need for tailored and specific information, including in First Nations and multicultural languages, to support communities in this important nation building project.
The Group noted the importance of ensuring First Nations people are enrolled and have the opportunity to vote. The Group agreed to invite the Australian Electoral Commission to present to its next meeting.
Equality Australia presented on the success of their campaign for marriage equality and their experience of working with communities and the importance of respectful dialogue.
Members are unified in working together and with Government towards a successful referendum. They recognised that this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution in a meaningful way.
The Engagement Group agreed to meet again before the end of the year to continue its work.