An Indigenous voice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the First Peoples, but today they are less than 3% of the Australian population.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the First Peoples, but today they are less than 3% of the Australian population. In Australia’s system of democracy, that can make it hard to have their voice heard in elections for the Parliament. It can also make it hard to influence laws that are made about them in the Parliament.

It is vital that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a real say in the laws, policies and programs that a affect their rights. Some people think that Australia should set up a new group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who can give advice to the Parliament about Indigenous issues.

The Constitution could be changed to set up this new group. The group would make sure that the Parliament hears Indigenous voices when the Parliament makes new laws about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This could help the Parliament to make better and more effective laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Question 1: Do you think that Indigenous people should have a say when the Australian Parliament and government make laws and policies about Indigenous affairs?

Question 2: Should a new Indigenous group be set up under the Constitution to give advice and make sure Indigenous people have a voice in political decisions that affect them?

Question 3: Is it worth creating the new group if it can only give advice and does not have the power to block new laws?

Question 4: Do you have any ideas about what the new group would look like?

Read comments

Since 1967 many attempts have been made to create a mechanism that provides a "voice" for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For one reason or another these mechanisms have failed along with the many "failed"policies and program developed by all levels of government. Traditionally Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples idea of governing was based on a "circle" concept separated by gender e.g. men and women's business. The breakdown of traditional societies and interference by patronising policies and programs over 100 years has messed up traditional roles and responsibilties. What we have today is a society that is apathetic towards governance roles, pockets of people struggling to overcome extreme disadvantages and a large majority searching for their identity and culture. The result of 200 years of colonisation. Democratic processes for a society of people from 250 different tribal and clan groups is complicated and difficult. Native Title processes bear that out on so many levels.My option in respect to a voice is that an " Indigenous Productivity Commission" is established in the constitution to analyse and direct Government spending to the best programs/services to effectively "Close the Gap".Being in the Constitution it cannot be removed at the whim of politics or lobby group unhappy with the decisions of the Commission.When the "Gap is Closed" the Commission will no longer be needed.
Liz Loria
Tue, 02/05/2017 - 05:43
I support first people recognition. I support their full contribution to Australia and Australia holding them in respect. I think it is way over due.
Peter Fisher
Sun, 23/04/2017 - 04:55
The whole problem with the Australian Constitution is that when it was established it was exclusionary of the Indigenous peoples and it is that intent that still persists today.It is the intention of the Constitution that must be amended.The Constitution can only apply to those who have agreed to be bound by it and there is no where that I can find that we Australians have asked the Indigenous peoples if they want to unite with us under the Constitution.Instead of spending huge amounts of money on trying to keep the illusion going that the Constitution meant to include them by some sort of little touches around the edge, substantial changes must be made.Recognition of the Indigenous peoples is already done with the numerous "Native Title" determinations concluded by the Australian Courts, so recognition in the Constitution is the wrong concept.We should be having a referendum amongst the Australian citizens if we should invite the Indigenous peoples to unite with us under the Constitution if they so choose.We have no treaty with them and Australia needs a treaty.We cannot force our Constitution onto them, especially after they were excluded by us from the beginning.All Australians need to be aware of the current position we are in.We are trespassers forcing our law and principles onto the owners of their respective territories.A treaty and an invitation please.
Richard Waddy
Fri, 21/04/2017 - 17:37
There have been indigenous groups to voice their concerns. The idea of taking htis to hte federal level belies the fact that indigenous groups are disparate by race and language. Representation groups have had difficulties getting cohesive plans on a state by state scale let alone federal level. Realistic assessment of indigenous needs is politically untenable. The more that govt depts do for them to get a facade of "representation" the less that will be achieved in the long term.
Matthew Trudgeon
Wed, 19/04/2017 - 11:04
1) Absolutely2) I think so but I'm not that politically informed3) Not sure4) Not really
Grant Palmer
Wed, 19/04/2017 - 08:27
Grant Palmer, It is time to recognise and make amends for the injustices being committed now and by my ancestors and the society of the past and give our indigenous peoples the respect recognition and representation they deserve

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