Final Report of the Referendum Council
In 2010 Prime Minister the Hon Julia Gillard established the Expert Panel on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution, co-chaired by Patrick Dodson and Mark Leibler, which reported in 2012. Prime Minister the Hon Tony Abbott established a Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, co-chaired by Senator Ken Wyatt and Senator Nova Peris, which reported in June 2015. Prime Minister the Hon Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader the Hon Bill Shorten then established this Referendum Council in December 2015.
This report builds on the work of the Expert Panel and the Joint Select Committee. It takes into account the political and legal responses to the earlier reports, as well as the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the general public.
We were required to consult specifically with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on their views of meaningful recognition. The 12 First Nations Regional Dialogues, which culminated in the National Constitutional Convention at Uluru in May 2017, empowered First Peoples from across the country to form a consensus position on the form constitutional recognition should take.
This is the first time in Australia’s history that such a process has been undertaken. It is a significant response to the historical exclusion of First Peoples from the original process that led to the adoption of the Australian Constitution. The outcomes of the First Nations Regional Dialogues and the National Constitutional Convention are articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
The findings of our broader community consultation supported the findings of the First Nations Regional Dialogues. This strengthens our conviction that the Voice to the Parliament proposal and an extra-constitutional Declaration of Recognition will be acceptable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to the broader Australian community. We propose these reforms because they conform to the weight of views of First Peoples expressed in the First Nations Regional Dialogues as well as those of the wider community. With focussed political leadership and continued multiparty support for meaningful recognition, the Voice to the Parliament proposal can succeed at a referendum.
The consensus view of the Referendum Council is that these recommendations for constitutional and extra-constitutional recognition are modest, reasonable, unifying and capable of attracting the necessary support of the Australian people. A statement by Amanda Vanstone is at Appendix E.
Read the full Final Report of the Referendum Council.