Australia to Hold Historic Indigenous Referendum by December

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(Bloomberg) -- Australia will hold a national vote between October and December on creating a new advisory group to Parliament for the nation’s Indigenous people.

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Thursday the referendum was a “real opportunity” for the country as he joined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in Canberra to unveil the likely wording for the constitutional change, which would embed the “Voice to Parliament” in the charter.

Under the proposal, Australians will be asked if they support altering “the Constitution to recognize the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Voice.”

Albanese described the move as a “modest request,” as the nation’s Indigenous people should have a say in the decisions and policies that affect their lives. “Every Australian wants to know that an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander baby born today will enjoy an equal right to grow up healthy and safe,” he said.

What to Know About Australia’s Indigenous ‘Voice to Parliament’ Vote

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 3.2% of the population and have significantly worse health and lifestyle outcomes than the rest of the country, with Indigenous citizens more likely to be imprisoned and die early.

Under the proposal, the “Voice to Parliament” would be an elected body which would provide feedback on issues affecting Indigenous Australians. It would not have a veto power over legislation.

Not all of the nation’s Indigenous citizens are in favor of the proposal. Some have called for an official peace treaty first between the Australian government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, while others are concerned it won’t significantly improve their lives.

--With assistance from Tim Smith.

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