Voice on track for poll later this year, says Burney
Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney says the referendum for an Indigenous voice to parliament is on track, despite having not yet released a question.
Speaking from South Australia's parliament house, Ms Burney said the referendum would be held by the end of the year.
"We are doing the work that is needed to get this voice right," she said.
"I can assure you that the voice is on track.
"We are taking our time, consulting and being very deliberate ... to make sure this voice is the voice that people are asking for."
Both the referendum working group, which includes a cross-section of representatives from First Nations communities across Australia and the engagement group, which also includes representatives from Indigenous organisations, met in Adelaide this week.
The federal government has said it will introduce legislation by the end of the next parliamentary sitting on March 30.
Working group member Thomas Mayor said meaningful recognition of First Nations people in the constitution was long overdue.
"We are doing a lot of hard work to reach a set of words we can take to the Australian people to see our nation become better," he said.
"We want the Australian people to understand that all we doing is asking them to walk with us.
"A voice will recognise our long-existing history, culture and heritage - and give us a voice on decisions that are made about us."
SA Attorney-General and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher said state parliament would hold a special sitting session on March 26, when it will pass legislation for a voice.
He said the government would provide free public transport so that as many people as possible could witness the passing of the historic legislation.
"We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by legislating a voice and we look forward to South Australia supporting the yes camp in the federal referendum," Mr Maher said.
Ms Burney thanked the members of both advisory groups and said there was no division within them.
"It is about consultation, negotiation and it's certainly about representation - that is exactly what the voice is about, making sure First Nations' voices are heard by the parliament," she said.
"And also finally putting into the Australian constitution a record of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories, history and our wonderful legacy of over 65,000 years.
"This is a once-in-a-generation chance."
Ms Burney said that the life expectancy, health and other social justice determinants of Indigenous people were "totally unacceptable".
"A voice is a way to make sure that decisions around and about us are informed by First Nations people across the country," she said.
"We are on the verge of doing something remarkable - of finally recognising First Nations people in a way that will make us feel proud.
"We'll all walk taller the day after the referendum."