Voice will be practical, symbolic: Burney

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A Voice to parliament would bring both practical and symbolic outcomes, the Indigenous Australians minister says.

As Prime Minister Anthony Albanese revealed at the Garma Festival the possible question that could be asked in a referendum, Linda Burney said there was an "overwhelming" sense of excitement in the Indigenous community for the Voice.

A potential question to be asked in the referendum would be: "Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?"

While Ms Burney said the process to enshrine a Voice in the constitution would not be rushed, now was the time to act.

"A Voice to parliament is about both symbolism and practical outcomes, practical outcomes like education, housing and family violence," Ms Burney told parliament on Monday.

"A Voice to the parliament means that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be consulted and heard on policies that affect them, practical outcomes that will make a real difference to people's lives."

Mr Albanese said details about the Voice, such as its function and how it operated, would be worked out following consultation but it would only act as an advisory body and not as a third chamber of parliament.

Ms Burney said previous work about the Voice by Aboriginal leaders would not be jettisoned and would be part of the government's consideration.

While a timeline for the referendum has not been finalised, Labor reportedly prefers holding the vote next year.

Mr Albanese said the move to enshrine a Voice to parliament would be a way of advancing reconciliation.

"Five years on (from the Uluru Statement), it's time that we all walked the walk with Indigenous Australians," he told parliament.

"It is not a matter of special treatment. It is not a matter of preferential power, it is about consulting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on decisions that affect them."

The prime minister said the Voice would be an opportunity to "uplift our nation".

"The primacy of the parliament is not affected ... it is a matter of a Voice being a vehicle to advance practical measures to gap," he said.

Greens First Nations spokeswoman Lidia Thorpe said she welcomed the referendum and wanted all elements of the Uluru Statement to be enacted.

However, she called on the government to implement a treaty with Indigenous people and to follow through on all recommendations from the royal commission into deaths in custody.

"Our priority should be black justice in this country, our priority should be about saving lives today, not waiting for a referendum," she told ABC radio.

First Nations Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price branded the bill "virtue signalling" and called for more practical action.

"This bill is an unnecessary distraction from the important work that needs to be done that we as a coalition have invested heavily in," she said.

Senator Thorpe also led a push in the Senate for the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People through her private senator's bill.

She earlier made a stand in the Senate while being sworn in, raising her fist - often seen as a symbol of resistance - and branded the Queen a "coloniser" while referring to herself as "sovereign".

Senator Thorpe was then forced to recite the oath of allegiance without the additional words.

Her bill will establish a framework to implement UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) and put in place annual reporting mechanisms.

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