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Submission Number
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
Submission date
Main Submission Automated Transcript


6 May 2021

Submission on the Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process Interim Report
This submission from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (the Conference) on
the Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process is jointly prepared by the Bishops Commission
for Relations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Peoples and the Bishops
Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service.
The Conference is a permanent institution of the Catholic Church in Australia and the
vehicle used by the Australian Catholic Bishops to address issues of national significance.
There are more than 130,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics in Australia.
The largest number of First People Catholics is the more than 15,000 in the Archdiocese
of Brisbane. The highest proportion of Indigenous Catholics is in the Diocese of Broome
where almost sixty per cent of the Catholic population is made up of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people.
The Conference seeks to participate in public debate by making reasoned arguments
that can be respectfully considered by all people of goodwill.
The Conference supports the submission of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC).
The models proposed for the National Voice should include the involvement of the
widest variety of First People organisations, including religious faith-based groups like
NATSICC. Faith and spirituality are an essential part of the lives of many Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people and so should not be excluded from the National Voice
The structure should reach as many First People as possible and provide a very clear and
open pathway for people to contribute their views to local, regional and national
consultation processes.
As well as ensuring input from Indigenous people, the National Voice must be able to
demonstrate that the message is received and given respectful consideration in decision
making bodies like Australia’s Parliament. This may require a formal place in the
standing orders of both houses of the Parliament where input from the National Voice
can be tabled and debated.

GENERAL SECRETARIAT T (02) 6201 9845 gensec@catholic.org.au
GPO BOX 368, CANBERRA ACT 2601 F (02 6247 6083 www.catholic.org.au
Ultimately the Indigenous Voice should be able to show how it has helped Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander people with very practical measures in their lives, including the
preservation of their unique cultural heritage, their economic wellbeing and their
physical safety.
Once a National Voice model has been recommended, the Government should move
quickly to implement its commitment to have a referendum. Should the referendum
question pass, the Government and Australia’s Parliament should introduce and pass
enabling legislation as soon as possible.
We would be happy to answer questions and can be contacted via Mr Jeremy Stuparich,
Public Policy Director at the Conference on 02 6201 9863 or policy@catholic.org.au
Yours faithfully

Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green OSPPE Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv
Chair, Bishops Commission for Relations Chair, Bishops Commission for Social Justice,
with Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Mission and Service




We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and custodians of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to the people, the cultures and the Elders past, present and emerging.