ASLM’s Statement on the Voice to Parliament

The Uluru Statement from the Heart was drafted as a result of 13 Regional Dialogues held across Australia that culminated with the First Nations Constitutional Convention hosted in Central Australia on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum. The convention is where First Nations people formed a consensus about the need for structural and systemic change and for constitutional recognition.

The Uluru Statement is essentially an invitation from First Nations people extended to other Australians inviting them to support one of the key recommendations from the convention that meaningful constitutional recognition is tied to providing a First Nations Voice to parliament.

The Uluru Statement called for an advisory body, called “the Voice”, to advise parliament and the federal government on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy and programming matters, including health inequities, education disparities, economic disadvantage, and other social matters.

ASLM believes and firmly supports the view that the Voice to Parliament will give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities a means to help inform policy and legislation that impact their lives. A Voice on these matters will lead to better outcomes in the social, spiritual, and environmental determinants of health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. For too long in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health we have addressed health and wellbeing “downstream” from more entrenched “upstream” systems – educational, political, health and socio-cultural.

ASLM believes that having an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, that is enshrined in the Australian Constitution, will ensure that the momentum of any improvements and gains in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing will not be halted, diminished, delayed, or reversed by successive federal governments.

At ASLM we believe that the Voice will set the tone for political and cultural change at all levels of government. The flow on effects from Federal to State through to local councils will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are no longer tokenistic or sought after at the end of a process; but their voices are heard and sort after from the very beginning of any policy proposal or change.

ASLM has partnered with local community-controlled health organisations who operate within a decolonised healthcare environment demonstrating that that the voice is critically needed to effect positive change and transformation.

At ASLM we believe that health and wellbeing seen holistically must include the socio-cultural and political domains of health together with the physical, emotional, and psychological domains. A Voice to Parliament will ensure that effective measures to address this is enhanced.

ASLM strongly urges our membership to weigh the arguments for and against the Referendum question. We encourage our members to actively engage with the referendum process, the question and the arguments put forward by our leaders – Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

ASLM as an organisation and based on our stated mission and values supports the Voice to Parliament and that it be enshrined in our Australian Constitution.

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