In its final report to the Australian Parliament, the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has endorsed the central proposal made in the Uluru Statement from the Heart – a First Nations Voice.
The committee was established in March to consider matters relating to constitutional change, including the recommendations of the Expert Panel, the previous Joint Select Committee, the Statement from the Heart, and the Referendum Council.
At the outset, the Committee understood and acknowledged that the Statement from the Heart was a significant turning point in the discussion about the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
As such, the Committee focussed its efforts on the central proposal for constitutional change made in the Statement from the Heart—the proposal for a First Nations Voice.
The Committee has also been mindful of the need to ensure that its recommendations are legitimate and acceptable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the Parliament, and, ultimately, the Australian people.
In its interim report, the Committee considered the proposal for a Voice in detail, and since July the Committee continued to seek the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and others about how best to achieve constitutional recognition.
In its final report, the Committee endorses the proposal for a Voice. The Committee recommends a process of co-design between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to determine the detail of the Voice, to conclude within the term of the 46th Parliament.
The Committee further recommends that the appropriate legal form of the Voice be determined following this process of co-design.
The Committee considers that these recommendations are significant steps for the Parliament to discuss and consider, and significant steps towards a bipartisan and agreed approach to advancing the cause of constitutional recognition.
The Committee also makes recommendations in relation to truth-telling about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, traditions, and culture. The Committee hopes that a fuller understanding of Australia’s history will lead to a more reconciled nation.
The Committee acknowledges and thanks everyone who participated in the inquiry, including those who made written submissions and gave evidence at public hearings around Australia.
The final report is available on the Committee’s website at: www.aph.gov.au/jsccr.