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Message to our community on the Voice to Parliament

23 August 2023
Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor joint message
Today Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AC and Vice-Chancellor and President Mark Scott AO wrote to staff, sharing a statement from the University Senate on the Voice to Parliament and their personal support.

The full message is below:
The forthcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament is a vital moment in our nation’s history.

In recent weeks, Australians who have had an essential role in shaping this proposal have spoken to our community at the University. Noel Pearson, Professor Marcia Langton and Professor Tom Calma told of the history of the Uluru Statement and the significance of the proposition that will go before the Australian people in the coming months.

We have also had several lengthy discussions at the Senate and the University Executive – building on conversations that are taking place across campus – about how the University as an institution can best engage in this critical public deliberation.

As you would expect, there have been different perspectives in an institution that cherishes debate, free speech and the testing of divergent views. 

Some have felt that even though the University has never taken institutional positions on contentious societal matters of the past, including the 1967 referendum, and the marriage equality debate, this is a matter of such importance that we should do so this time.

There were other concerns that a statement by the University indicating a position would suggest unanimity in view – or seek to impose an institutional perspective on the individuals who form our community. 

At the University's most senior leadership bodies, we have all agreed that the top priority is for everyone to be informed on the key issues underpinning the referendum and be engaged in the democratic processes. Today, we have released a statement on the Voice from the University Senate.

The most significant power will come – not with a statement on an institution's behalf – but with our community's empowered voices actively partaking in this vital democratic engagement as we prepare to vote.

In the coming weeks, we expect continued vigorous activity around our campuses, encouraging all to be engaged and informed, to be on the electoral roll and to be ready to cast a vitally important vote.

Colleagues have curated important information on the Voice, which is an excellent starting point.

In our personal capacity, we are both supporting a Yes vote in the Voice referendum as a vital step in healing and reconciliation and ensuring Aboriginal voices are heard on critical matters affecting First Nations people and all Australians, especially education, employment and health. 

We encourage members of our community to speak up if they wish, explaining how they have come to see this issue and why they have chosen to vote the way they will.

Kind regards, 
Belinda and Mark