29 April 2021
Legal Intersections Research Centre
School of Law
Faculty of Business and Law
University of Wollongong
Wollongong, NSW 2522
Re: Interim Report to the Australian Government: Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process
The University of Wollongong School of Law welcomes this opportunity to make a submission on the
Interim Report to the Australian Government: Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process.
The University of Wollongong is committed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reconciliation and to
inspiring a better future through education, research and partnership. We acknowledge the Traditional
Custodians of the lands on which the University of Wollongong is situated. We pay our respects to
Aboriginal Elders past and present, who are the knowledge holders and teachers. We acknowledge their
continued spiritual and cultural connection to Country. As we share knowledge, teaching, learning and
research within this University we also pay respect to the knowledge embedded forever within the
Aboriginal Custodianship of Country.
The University of Wollongong School of Law Legal Intersections Research Centre (LIRC) is committed
to research across law, society and culture with a focus on social justice. The LIRC supports research into
indigenising the law curriculum, mentoring and support for indigenous law students, cultural competency
for academics and other staff in law and research focused on legal issues facing Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples.
We welcome the government’s Interim Co-Design Report and acknowledge the significant work
undertaken by the three co-design committees, led by co-chairs Professor Marcia Langton AM and
Professor Tom Calma AO. We understand that co-design means the current proposals are not complete
and that it is critical that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people contribute their experience and ideas
into this consultation process. Our submission is intended to be a constructive contribution to this
Our submission can be summarised in three points:
1. The government should honour its election commitment to a referendum once the model for the
Voice has been settled;
2. Enabling legislation for the Voice should be passed after a referendum has been held in the next
term of Parliament; and
3. The membership model for the National Voice should ensure previously unheard Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people have the same chance of being selected as established leadership
We will address these three points in turn.
First, the words of constitutional amendment need to be developed for submission to the Australian people
at a referendum. This process must now begin. The referendum should clarify that the National Voice will
be: enshrined in the Constitution; that it is a body independent of Parliament and Government and not a
‘third chamber’ of Parliament; that it will be representative of the diverse populations and needs of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and that it will speak to the Parliament and Government on
policy and legislation.
Second, a separate structured process to consider the constitutional, legislative and executive options to
enact the National Voice should be engaged in prior to the referendum.
The Referendum should present to the Australian people a draft bill to allow consideration of the details of
the proposal prior to the referendum. This will, hopefully, result in informed discussion about the
referendum and proposal, and provide accurate information on exactly what is involved in the vote. The
enabling legislation for the National Voice should be passed and implemented after the referendum.
Third, the membership model for the National Voice should ensure previously unheard Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people have the same chance of being selected as established leadership figures.
Membership should not be limited to 18. Rather, membership should prioritise gender equity, be based on
population distribution and need, and give a proportional Voice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
people living in Remote and Regional areas. There should also be a structurally enshrined inclusion of
frontline and community-focused people in national-level deliberations.
A Voice enshrined in the Constitution is a fair, practical and safe proposal that will unify our nation.
We are pleased to make our submission in response to this Interim Voice Co-Design Report.
The School of Law contact for this matter is Professor Nan Seuffert, Director, Legal Intersections
Research Centre, who can be reached at email@example.com.
Prof Nan Seuffert
Director, Legal Intersections Research Centre
School of Law
Faculty of Business and Law
University of Wollongong NSW 2522 Australia
Telephone: +61 2 4221 3382 Facsimile: +61 2 4221 3188
firstname.lastname@example.org law.uow.edu.au UOW CRICOS: 00102E