Conversations to inform public discussion on the Voice referendum

Image by artist Ande K Terare
Image by artist Ande K Terare (Language group: Bundjalung; Tribe/clan: Minjungbal).

The University of Melbourne will lead discussion and debate on the upcoming Voice referendum, launching a series of public in-person and online events designed to explore and explain the proposed changes to the Australian Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia.

Conversations About the Voice will be held by the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies (CCCS) at the Melbourne Law School. The first event – ‘Opening the Conversation’ – will take place on Monday, 3 April, at 5.30pm at Melbourne Law School. This event will set the scene for the series and provide an overview of the proposed constitutional change.

Conversations About the Voice is convened by barrister Timothy Goodwin of List A Barristers, Laureate Emeritus Professor Cheryl Saunders AO and CCCS Director Professor Jason Varuhas. The series will further enhance theopportunity for public debate and discussion ahead of the referendum that is expected to be held late in 2023.

Professor Varuhas said: “We're very pleased to launch Conversations About the Voice, which will provide an accessible and engaging forum for Australians to explore the proposed changes to the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia.

“We want to foster a conversation with as wide an audience as possible about the proposed constitutional change. Our aim is to provide the public with a trusted source of expertise in relation to the legal and constitutional dimensions of the Voice proposal.”

Conversations About the Voice aims to inform public understanding and debate about the proposed constitutional change, including the process of change, over the course of the referendum year.

Each event in the series will be dedicated to a core aspect of the reform proposal and will feature leading thinkers on constitutional law and government. The series is intended to be interactive, providing an opportunity for audience members to contribute to the conversation and have their questions answered.

The series of events promises to be an engaging opportunity for the public to converse with leading constitutional experts and learn more about this important proposal.

Register here to attend the first event in the series.

Other attributable quotes:

Professor Matthew Harding, Dean of the Melbourne Law School: “The Melbourne Law School has a critical role to play in the coming months, convening our expert voices to lead, challenge and shape this important debate on Australia’s future. We hope Conversations About the Voice means Australians will be well informed with the facts when they vote later this year.”

Dr Eddie Cubillo, Associate Dean (Indigenous) at Melbourne Law School, and Director of the School’s Indigenous Law and Justice Hub: “We as a nation are at a crucial moment. We have a chance to set the structures for recognising, respecting and truly listening to First Nations Peoples and setting a standard that we all can be proud of.”

University of Melbourne Council and Executive statement on the Voice referendum.