UN Experts Call for Australian Support in Establishing Indigenous Voice Ahead of Referendum

United Nations human rights experts have called upon the Australian public to rally behind the creation of a permanent constitutional body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, to provide counsel to the government regarding matters affecting Australia's First Peoples.

On October 14, 2023, Australians will partake in a crucial referendum, which seeks to enshrine an Indigenous Voice in the country's Constitution. The proposed "Voice initiative" aims to address deep-seated systemic discrimination and inequality, which have long hindered Indigenous Peoples' rights to development and self-determination. 

Highlighting the dire situation faced by Indigenous communities, the experts underscored the disparities in healthcare, housing, nutrition, education, and employment opportunities. Indigenous children are 26 times more likely to be incarcerated than their non-Indigenous counterparts, and Indigenous women grapple with elevated rates of homelessness and gender-based violence.

The UN experts emphasized the right of Indigenous Peoples, as recognized by international human rights law, to participate in decision-making that directly impacts them. They implored Australians to vote "yes" in the forthcoming referendum to help Australia meet its human rights obligations.

Furthermore, the experts stressed that the referendum should mark only the initial phase in the realization of the Uluru Statement and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

For more information, please visit the website of the UN.