La Trobe University Statement on a First Nations Voice to the Australian Parliament.
La Trobe University is committed to enabling self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples through a rights-based approach, both within and external to the University. We commit to Indigenous Peoples’ push for treaty, voice, and truth as described in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
We support the Statement’s call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution and a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about Australia’s history.
The referendum to be held later this year is an important moment in Australia’s history as our nation continues to address its colonial past and the continuing effects of past policies and practices on Indigenous peoples. We welcome the referendum as a first step in delivering the constitutional change and structural reform required to realise the vision outlined in the Statement from the Heart.
Through our work, we will join with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities we serve to advance public conversations about the place of, and respect for, Indigenous knowledges and protocols in the social, political, and economic life of Australia. Within the University, we are committed to decolonising our curriculum and implementing changes within our research and teaching strategies to increase opportunities for First Peoples.
As a university for the public good, La Trobe will foster shared respect, inclusive thinking, and informed discussion. We have a responsibility to support our students, whose votes will be important in deciding the outcome of the referendum, given that people aged between 18 and 34 make up more than a quarter of the Australian electorate. We are also committed to supporting the communities that surround our campuses, which includes many Indigenous individuals and communities, and to supporting our Indigenous students and staff.
La Trobe’s contributions will build on our long-term commitment to Indigenous leadership through our Office of Indigenous Strategy and Education and the Office’s engagement with Indigenous staff and communities. Other contributions to the discussion include the recent publication by the La Trobe University Press of Statements from the Soul: The Moral Case for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a collection of essays from religious leaders arguing for a First Nations Voice to be enshrined in the Constitution that includes contributions from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh communities.
In light of the principles above, the University’s contribution to public discussion about the Voice to Parliament will include:
- Encouraging our staff and students to actively participate in the processes leading up to the referendum
- Promoting discussion and helping members of our communities to make an informed decision about their vote in the referendum
- Providing evidence to counteract misleading or false assertions about the aims or outcomes of a First Nations Voice to Parliament, to nullify divisive campaigning, and to encourage inclusive dialogue
- Offering our academic expertise to contribute to public discussions
- Providing additional wellbeing and cultural support to Indigenous La Trobe students and staff
- Supporting the Indigenous communities that surround our campuses and enabling them to participate actively in discussions, particularly in Bendigo, Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga, and Mildura
Hon John Brumby AO
Chancellor, La Trobe University
Professor John Dewar AO
Vice-Chancellor, La Trobe University
Contact the La Trobe University Media Team