From the Vice-Chancellor – Voice to Parliament

04 Apr 2023

Hello everyone  

I'm delighted to be able to share with you some important news from Friday's Council meeting. Our Council has issued a statement, below, giving its unreserved support to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

ANU Council Statement 

 In 2017, following an extensive process of consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, the Uluru Statement from the Heart called for 'the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution'.
With an historic referendum to enact this call planned for 2023, The Australian National University Council unreservedly supports enshrining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice in the Constitution, recognising its alignment with the University's national mission.  
The Council acknowledges that differing views exist within the University community and that the University is a place where respectful informed debate and freedom of expression are actively encouraged.  

The Council thanks the Academic Board of the University for its work and guidance, and acknowledges that it also unreservedly supports enshrining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice in the Constitution. 

Complementing Council's statement and, in particular, its reference to our national mission, the First Nations Portfolio has produced an excellent document to guide Australians through some of the common concerns about the Voice.

Like our Council, I acknowledge the ANU community has a diversity of views on how to vote in the forthcoming referendum on the Voice. As I've said before, my personal view is that establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament and enshrining it in the Constitution is a positive step for our nation.  

The clear endorsement from our Council and my own personal views are not an expectation that our staff and students will vote in a particular way or actively advocate for a yes vote. 

Rather, I encourage every member of our community to engage with the referendum from an informed position. Please ensure that all conversations are respectful, and do not assume any student or staff member has a particular point of view.    

ANU will do what it always does when our nation faces a critical decision. We will lead and facilitate a balanced and informed national conversation, bringing our expertise to bear on complex issues and helping guide Australia through. 

As you consider the merits of the referendum, there is no better place to start than the information the First Nations Portfolio has produced

Please also bear in mind this might be a difficult time for Indigenous staff and students and I urge non-Indigenous people not to lean on our Indigenous staff and students for information and support when there are other sources to help you inform yourself.   

Finally, I cannot write about the Voice without noting the passing of a great Australian, Yunupingu, this week. Professor Peter Yu, Vice-President of the First Nations Portfolio, has prepared a powerful tribute to his legacy and life - I encourage you all to read it.