The University of Southern Queensland hosted a Voice to Parliament forum at its Springfield campus yesterday, bringing together experts to engage in meaningful conversation surrounding the upcoming referendum.
Acting Pro-Vice Chancellor First Nations Education and Research Odette Best, who moderated the panel discussion, said the forum aligned with the University’s First Nations Blueprint.
“Our vision is to establish UniSQ as a renowned centre for First Nations learning, intercultural exchange, and truth-telling that genuinely embraces the concept of Country,” Professor Best said.
“This is a historic opportunity for everyone within Australia to exercise their democratic right to take part in a referendum to support First Nations’ inclusion into the Constitution and to have a platform in Parliament to advise on First Nations issues and concerns.”
The panel included UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Engagement Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, Youth Manager for the Uluru Youth Dialogue Allira Davis, Professor Simon Young from the UniSQ School of Law and Justice, and UniSQ First Nations Studies lecturer Emerson Zerafa-Payne.
Professor Young – who specialises in First Nations law and policy – said in legal and administrative terms, the Voice was a modest proposal that would support existing priorities.
“The Voice would be a recognition of Australia’s unique cultural heritage and a long-term investment in an idea that we know is effective – working with communities at the grassroots level early, generously and collaboratively,” Professor Young said.
“The proposed constitutional change is modest, but it would be something we could build on together over time as the country’s needs and challenges evolve and as communities explore how they can be best represented and heard.
“The federal dimension is important as this can be a unifying pathway forward for our country.”
The event informed hundreds of attendees in person and online of the intent of the Voice and its importance.