Indigenous Voice to Parliament: Here's what you need to know

Soon Aussies will be heading to the polls to decide whether to enshrine an independent advisory body for First Nations people in the Constitution, but many voters are still unsure how to vote or what to do. Here’s what you need to know.

Video transcript

- Aussies will soon be heading to the polls to decide whether to enshrine an independent advisory body for First Nations people in the constitution. But many voters are still unsure how to vote or what to do. Here's what you need to know.

The Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum will be held on October 14. And voting is compulsory for everyone aged 18 and above who is registered. To vote, all you need to do is write either yes or no in the box. For the yes vote to pass, it needs a national majority and majorities in at least four of the six states.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said there's nothing for us to lose, and there's so much for Australia to gain. There is no downside here, only upside. If not now, when?

Currently, First Nations people are not mentioned in Australia's constitution. The advisory body would give its opinion on matters that affect Indigenous Australians with an aim to improve their lives. Albanese said the group would be subservient to parliament with no veto power.

The idea of having a voice came from Indigenous people themselves through the Uluru Statement from the Heart. While supporters say the new body will be a game changer in terms of better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, opponents argue that it is divisive and would open the door to more change.

Here's what each side is saying. The yes campaign, supporters of the Voice say it is needed to recognize Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our constitution. And it would allow Indigenous people to speak directly to parliament about policy and legislation issues that directly impact them. With Indigenous Australians facing huge challenges in terms of health, education, and employment, the Yes campaign claims the voice will ensure people have a better life.

Albanese described the Voice as a body with the perspective and the power and the platform to tell the government and the parliament the truth about what is working and what is not. It's important to note that while parliament would listen to the advice, it does not have to follow the recommendations.

The Yes campaign also argues that the Voice needs to be constitutionally enshrined to make a powerful statement to recognize the First Peoples of Australia and drive practical change.

The No campaign, the No campaign says there are too many unknown details of how the advisory panel would operate and claim having a body for only one group of Australians will polarize the country, alleging it would permanently divide Australians in law and spirit. While the Yes campaign claims the Voice is necessary to better outcomes for Indigenous Australians, the No campaign argues that it won't help. It argues there are already many Indigenous representative bodies at all levels of government. And a centralized voice would ignore the needs of remote communities.

Shadow minister for Indigenous Australians JaCinta Price said, what we need in Canberra is ears not a Voice. The No campaign also believes enshrining the voice in the Constitution would open the door for activists who seek to abolish Australia Day, change national symbols such as the flag, and give reparations to Indigenous Australians.