Noel Pearson, University of Sydney alumnus and proud leader from the Guugu Yimidhirr community, speaking at the Voices on the Voice event.

A student's guide to the Voice: what role does the University play? 

Raising voices on the Voice

Throughout our 170-year history, the University of Sydney has been at the forefront of many political and social debates in Australia. This year's referendum on the Voice to Parliament is no different. Find out how we're facilitating and leading conversation around the Voice, and how you can get involved as a student. 

This year, eligible Australians will vote in a referendum. The referendum will comprise a single yes or no question about whether to change the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing a body called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. The referendum is set to be held on 14 October 2023.

We've created a student's guide to the Voice series, with articles answering the most common questions you might have about the upcoming referendum, including information about the voting process and the resources available to help inform your decision. This article is the third in our series, where we discuss the University's role in facilitating political discussion and debate.

Why should I vote?

Voting in Australia is your democratic right. Every day, politicians make decisions that affect the livelihoods of everyone in this country. When there’s a referendum, eligible voters can have their say in how the country is run. They do this by voting “Yes” or “No” to a question that has the potential to change the Australian Constitution.

Voting is compulsory for all eligible Australians. It’s also a valuable opportunity to think critically about the issue at hand, to interrogate your views, listen to the views of people most affected, and make your own decision based on the information available. Voting is your chance to be represented and heard.

At the University, we encourage research, critical thinking, debate, and discussion. We also seek to provide you with access to a diverse range of viewpoints so you can feel confident making your decision when it’s time to vote on 14 October 2023.

What role does the University play?

We acknowledge that the referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution is an incredibly important conversation and a historic moment for the nation. 

Our University has been at the forefront of many political and social debates in both Australia and across the world, including the 1965 Freedom Ride led by alumnus Dr Charles Perkins. We're proud of our rich history of activism and facilitating robust, informed and respectful debate on our campuses. University of Sydney academics and experts continue our tradition of contributing to public discourse by participating in the Voice to Parliament conversation through print media, television, radio and other events.

As an educational institution that is committed to the sharing of ideas, we encourage you to express your views freely, while also listening to and learning from the perspectives of others. Our University is a place where you should feel safe to engage in open dialogue, respectfully disagree with your peers, and involve yourself in deep discussion.

It’s important to remember that along with debate comes a responsibility to be civil and abide by our policies and law. Read the Student Charter to familiarise yourself with your roles and responsibilities as a student of the University of Sydney.

How can I get involved?

As a public institution, it’s our responsibility to create opportunities for our community to listen deeply and to be heard, and to provide access to knowledge, diverse opinions, and reputable resources.

In the lead-up to the referendum, we’ll be sharing resources through our student communications channels to help you make an informed decision. Further resources are available on the National Centre for Cultural Competence's Voice to Parliament webpage.

Additionally, we’ll be hosting a series of events through our talks program, Sydney Ideas, featuring leading thinkers and critical figures contributing to the conversation.  

Attend upcoming events

Dr Charles Perkins Oration 2023 | The Great Hall

Join us on 19 September as we celebrate the life and work of one of our most impactful alumni, Dr Charles Perkins. This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the Dr Charles Perkins Oration and Memorial Prize, and features keynote speaker Rachel Perkins. A proud Arrente and Kalkadoon woman, Rachel has worked as an Australian film and television director, producer, and screenwriter. She has spent the past year passionately advocating for the impending referendum's importance and enlightening individuals about the positive transformations it promises for First Nations peoples.

Keep an eye out for future events on the Voice to Parliament in our weekly editions of Student News, on the University's Voice to Parliament webpage and on the National Centre for Cultural Competence site.

Catch up on past events

Sydney Ideas, Voices on the Voice: Noel Pearson

Sydney Ideas, Voices on the Voice: Professor Marcia Langton AO

Sydney Ideas, Voices on the Voice: Professor Tom Calma AO

The Voice Referendum presented by Associate Professor Elisa Arcioni

11 September 2023