Four people sitting in a circle having a discussion on grass

Our Statement on the Voice to Parliament Referendum

6 September 2023
The Matilda Centre wholeheartedly supports an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

Six years ago, over 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders from communities around the country gathered and drafted the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Matilda Centre unequivocally accepts the Uluru Statement’s invitation to walk in a movement of the Australian people for a better, healthier future.

Constitutional recognition is a critical step in creating a better shared future.

In October 2023 Australians will be asked to come together and vote in a referendum seeking to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution through the enshrinement of a Voice to Parliament. A Voice to Parliament will provide a mechanism for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be involved in decision making on matters that affect their lives.

The fast-approaching referendum is an historic opportunity for Australian people to change the Constitution and put the nation on a pathway towards a better future.

The Matilda Centre is a multidisciplinary research centre committed to improving the health and wellbeing of people affected by mental and substance use disorders. Self-determination is central to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander concepts of Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB). We believe that enshrining a Voice to parliament is a critical step to reducing inequality and improving physical health, mental health, and social and emotional wellbeing for First Nations peoples.

Despite decades of dedicated programs and policies, major progress on Closing the Gap is lacking. A Voice to Parliament will help to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are heard and be a decisive step to reducing inequality in this country.  

The Voice to Parliament is one of the most important discussions taking place in Australia. It is about a Nation of hope and love. The campaign and surrounding public discourse will have lasting impacts on the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  We urge Australians to engage in informed, truthful, and respectful dialogue. Whilst encouraging individual and academic freedom and respecting difference of opinion, the Matilda Centre is proud to support a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

This statement follows a strong statement of support from our colleagues at the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney. The Matilda Centre would like to thank our First Nations collaborators for their generosity and wisdom and Tom Brideson, Kamilaroi/Gomeroi man who provided guidance on this statement.

Further resources about the Voice to Parliament have been compiled by our colleagues at TheMHS Learning Network.

Other insights from leaders at the University of Sydney