On referendum day, voters will be asked to vote 'yes' or 'no' on a single question. The question on the ballot paper will be:
“A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
Do you approve this proposed alteration?”
The proposed law that Australians are being asked to approve at the referendum would insert the following lines into the Constitution:
“In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:
This information for has been copied from this Australian Government website: https://voice.gov.au/referendum-2023/referendum-question-and-constitutional-amendment
- there shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
- the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
- the Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.”
Baptist Mission Australia's Response
As an organisation, Baptist Mission Australia supports a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous Voice to Parliament. We see this as a pivotal moment in our nation's history. We see this as an opportunity to listen to First Nations people, to follow in the just ways of Jesus and to take a step forward in our path towards reconciliation.
Australian Baptist Ministries
in the peak body of our Australian Baptist movement and in September 2022, the ABM National Council endorsed the recommendations of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. You can read their statement here >>
Additionally, we have written a statement in response to the upcoming referendum.
You can hear this statement incorporated into the following videos or read it below.
read our statement
Watch with captions >>
Watch with captions >>
Full Organisational Statement
"Baptist Mission Australia has for many years sought to respect and value the unique cultures, histories, languages and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities. We have sought to listen and learn from First Nations people, and journey together in pursuing the ways of Jesus.
We know that despite our best efforts we have made mistakes and we see the need for an ongoing humble, learning, and curious posture, as we seek to build positive Christ-like relationships with First Nations people and communities. We’re committed to standing alongside Christian First Nations leaders and faith communities as together we embody, by word and deed, the reconciling good news of Jesus.
Baptist Mission Australia recognises the ongoing injustice, disadvantage and racism faced by many First Nations people and we seek to play our part in supporting genuine and practical reconciliation initiatives. As followers of Jesus, we are called to be bearers of justice, not just in our words, but in our actions.
For many years, our organisation has sought to listen deeply to First Nations people.
Listening and a commitment to reconciliation go hand in hand. Over recent years, we have heard the strong and warm invitation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, expressed in the Uluru Statement of the Heart, to “walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”.
Having embraced this invitation, Baptist Mission Australia supports the recommendations expressed in the Uluru Statement, developed after an extensive First Nations led consultation process. These recommendations include 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 people and truth-telling about our history.
As we have listened to First Nations people, they have spoken strongly of the need for a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament, which will enable them to have a clear voice into decisions that impact their lives, communities, lands and aspirations. They have highlighted that the Voice is a pivotal step toward the full implementation of the Uluru Statement and so we see the planned referendum represents an historic opportunity for our nation to create a more just future.
As an agency serving our Australian Baptist movement, we appreciate it is the responsibility of every local church to seek the mind of Christ for its life and mission. Consequently, we acknowledge that not all local churches, individual partners or team members may agree with our organisational position.
But we would urge all churches and followers of Jesus to carefully listen to First Nations people and consider this historic opportunity to pursue a more just future in Australia.
Beyond these important reconciliation and justice issues, Baptist Mission Australia will continue to practically serve alongside First Nations people across Australia. This includes our ministry in outback communities in the Northern Territory and the imminent appointment of a First Nations Specialist to our National Team. Through these and other initiatives we will continue to foster holistic missional and justice initiatives and support the development of First Nations leaders"
Click here for a pdf version of our statement >>
Click here for Australian Baptist Ministries' statement >>
National Council - Australian Baptist Ministries' Statement
Australian Baptist Ministries in the peak body of our Australian Baptist movement and in September 2022, the ABM National Council endorsed the recommendations of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
READ THEir STATEMENT
Full Statement from ABM National Council
"The National Council of Australian Baptist Ministries (also known as the Baptist Union of Australia) accepts the invitation of our First Nations sisters and brothers in the Uluru Statement from the Heart to “walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”. We declare our support for the Statement’s calls for a “First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution” and “a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history”.
We welcome the intention of the Commonwealth Government to hold a referendum on the Voice to Parliament. This represents a historic occasion for our nation in the creation of a more just future. It is our hope that it will be very widely supported across our Parliament, across our churches and across our nation.
In the Baptist way of being church it is the responsibility of every local church to seek the mind of Christ for its life and mission. Consequently, we speak as leaders of State Baptist Associations and Baptist National Ministries, meeting together as the National Council of Australian Baptist Ministries, not on behalf of our churches but to our churches. We urge every local Baptist church and affiliated Baptist agencies across Australia to engage with the Uluru Statement from the Heart and take up its generous invitation.
In view of the impending referendum, we urge Baptist churches and affiliated Baptist agencies to make space in their 2023 calendar to familiarize themselves with the Uluru Statement, to be prayerful about the issues it raises, to facilitate informed discussion on the proposal for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, and to map out how they will take up the invitation from First Nations sisters and brothers to walk together towards a just future. To assist churches and affiliated agencies in this we have established a webpage at ajustcause.org.au/first-nations that links to resources they may find helpful."
Click here for a pdf version of the statement >>
Uluru Statement from the Heart
The call for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution grew out of extensive dialogues with First Nations people, culminating in the National Constitutional Convention in 2017 where the Uluru Statement from the Heart was developed.
This compelling Statement is a warm invitation from First Nations people to "...walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future".
The Uluru Statement from the Heart (spoken by Glenn Loughrey)
Uluru Statement from the Heart
"We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs.
This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.
This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty.
It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.
How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?
With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.
Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.
These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.
We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place
in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.
We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.
Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle.
It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.
We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.
In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future."
Explore more >>
Interview with Rev Canon Glenn Loughrey
As we approach this historic referendum, here are some further resources you can explore:
We invite you to join us in prayer as we head towards this pivotal time in our nation's history. Now is a time for listening, humility, grace and seeking to embody the way of Jesus through our words and deeds. Now is a time for unity in prayer - prayer for our country, church, the vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community, and our First Nations brothers and sisters.