At its June meeting, Greater Bendigo City Council will consider a report recommending it support constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples through a Voice to Parliament.
In 2022, the Federal Government committed to hold a referendum on a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament by the end of 2023.
The Federal Government has described the Voice to Parliament as an independent, representative advisory body that will provide a permanent means to advise Parliament and Executive Government on matters directly affecting the lives of First Nations communities.
It is being reported in the media that the referendum is likely to be held between October and December, and voting will occur in a similar way to a general election.
The report to Council notes the City of Greater Bendigo has taken an active role locally in advancing reconciliation since the early 2000s and that constitutional recognition aligns with the City’s Barpangu Reconciliation Plan 2020-2025 and its work supporting Traditional Owners and the local First Nations community.
Should the recommendation be supported, Council would also commit to sharing clear, unbiased information on the Voice to Parliament and all aspects of the upcoming referendum to support residents with their decision making.
The report also highlights support for the Voice to Parliament aligns with the City’s own Yilingga Marna recognition agreement with DJAARA.
The City’s adopted Social Justice Framework is recognised in the report as a helpful tool when considering the recommendation, given its intention to support decision making that improves equity, inclusion and support for human rights in the community.