RLC’s policy submission in response to the Interim Report to the Australian Government on the Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process strongly supports the enshrinement of a First Nations Voice in the Australian Constitution.
Our submission highlights the ways a constitutionally protected First Nations Voice to Parliament would improve the laws and policies that impact issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and examines areas in which First Nations peoples are disadvantaged and discriminated against within the legal system, including:
strip search powers
public order offences
fines and licensing
care and protection
We support the view that a First Nations Voice would contribute and be meaningfully impactful to law and policy reforms to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and support the constitutional enshrinement of this Voice as the best means to advise government to ensure the recognition of specific issues faced by First Nations peoples within reforms.
Not only will this provide the legitimacy and stability needed for the Voice to fulfil its functions, but more importantly, it is how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples seek to be recognised in the Constitution. Further, RLC submits that constitutional enshrinement of the Voice must come before legislative enactment.
RLC recommends that:
The Government must honour its election commitment to a referendum once a model for the Voice has been settled
Enabling legislation for the Voice must be passed after a referendum has been held in the next term of Parliament, and
The membership model for the National Voice must ensure previously unheard Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the same chance of being selected as established leadership figures.