At the heart of the Uniting Church is a commitment to walk together with First Nations people in seeking justice. We seek to work and pray together as First and Second Peoples for more just, inclusive and equal relationships in the church and in this nation. Inspired by this commitment, we support a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament as an historic opportunity to recognise and honour First Nations people and to walk together as a nation toward a better future.
Acknowledging the difficult history of this nation, and our part in the colonisation of First Nations people, the Uniting Church formally entered into a Covenant relationship with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress in 1994, an ever deepening commitment to seek a fuller expression our reconciliation in Jesus Christ.
In 2009, we adopted the Revised Preamble to the Constitution declaring God had been in this land long before the colonisers arrived, sustaining First Nations people. In 2018, the Uniting Church affirmed First Nations people as sovereign in this land, acknowledging the deep spiritual ties and connection for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with this land.
From its creation in 2017, the Uniting Church and UAICC have supported the Uluru Statement and its calls for Voice, Truth and Treaty.
THE ULURU STATEMENT
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation to the Australian people to help build a better future for all Australians. It calls for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution and a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making and truth-telling about our history.
The Statement from the Heart emerged from The First Nations National Constitutional Convention at Uluru in May 2017. The Convention was a three-day gathering of 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and was the culmination of 13 First Nations Regional Dialogues across Australia to discuss options for constitutional reform.
From late 2019 a Voice co-design process commenced to develop models and options. The Uniting Church, Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress and UnitingCare Australia participated in the consultation, calling for a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.
A REFERENDUM FOR A FIRST NATIONS VOICE
This year all Australians will be invited to vote on whether we should recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution.
It is an opportunity to consider a change to our constitution in a way that will honour and celebrate First Nations people at the heart of the nation.
The Referendum will ask whether we support the call in the Uluru Statement for a Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the constitution. Doing so will provide an opportunity for the diversity of First Nations voices in this country to be heard and to give First Nations people a say in decisions which impact them.
A First Nations Voice is a step towards truth telling of our nation's history, and will empower First Nations Australians, making them feel valued by their own country.
WHAT THE UNITING CHURCH HAS SAID
President of the Uniting Church in Australia Rev Sharon Hollis and UAICC Interim National Chair Rev Mark Kickett have affirmed their strong support for a Voice to Parliament as a critical step toward honouring the sovereignty of First Nations Australians in this land and furthering the work of truth-telling and treaty.
The Assembly Standing Committee (ASC) in March declared the support of the Uniting Church in Australia for the change in the constitution to recognise an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. The ASC resolved to call on church, community and political leaders to engage in respectful and constructive dialogue in response to the referendum.
In February, the Uniting Church joined a coalition of nine faith organisations in writing to all Federal parliamentarians urging them to co-operate across political divides in support of the Voice to Parliament.
RESOURCES TO GET INVOLVED
Great reads on the Voice
Great reads on the VoiceA collection of articles and resources that go a little deeperAre you interested in doing more reading on the Voice to Parliament?With less than a month to go before the referendum is held, campaigning from all over Australia is building momentum. Diverse parts of civil society, including the Uniting Church, are…
Preaching from the Heart
Preaching from the Heart Reflections from across Australia The Creative Ministries Network Congregation, connected to the Presbytery of Port Phillip East in Victoria, has compiled a fantastic anthology of sermons in light of the upcoming referendum. In it you will hear preachers from around the country grapple with what it means to…
Walk for Yes
This weekend thousands of supporters for a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum will “Walk for Yes” in events across the country to show there is wide and deep support for a First Nations Voice. The Uniting Church supports the Voice as an opportunity to celebrate the First Peoples of Australia in our…
National weekend of prayer, reflection and meditation
Communities of faith all over the country are invited to participate in a National Weekend of Prayer, Reflection and Meditation from 8-10 September to reflect on and pray for unity and hope in the lead-up to the Voice referendum.“This is an opportunity for us to open your hearts again to what is…
Referendum date announced
Referendum date announced Now is the time to join others in actions to support a Yes to healing and hope. The Uniting Church in Australia welcomes the announcement of 14 October as the date for the referendum on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress National Interim Chair…
5 UCA voices on the Voice
5 voices on the Voice Five pieces of writing from Uniting Church people on the Voice to Parliament The Voice to Parliament continues to be a defining conversation for our nation this year. There is a lot of talk in the public space and a lot of information to process. Across the Uniting Church,…
Q&A with Noel Pearson
Are you thinking about your vote in the referendum? Watch the recording of this online webinar hosted by the Assembly on 16 August to hear from Indigenous leader Noel Pearson and constitutional lawyer Dr Shireen Morris about what a Voice to Parliament would mean for Australia. Subscribe to our newsletterIf you want to get the latest…
FAQs About The Voice
What is the Referendum Question? On 19 June 2023, Parliament agreed the Referendum question would be as follows (voters will be asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’): “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…
What the Voice means to me
What the Voice means to meMessages from Uniting Church people on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice and why they support itOn October 14, all Australians will be invited to vote in a referendum that seeks to recognise and give voice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s Constitution. As we move…
A Voice to Parliament in 2 pages
New resource for congregations A two-page explainer and PowerPoint exploring what it will mean to have an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament A new resource on the Voice to Parliament is now available for congregations to use and share. In two pages, it breaks down how the referendum is an opportunity to consider…
Uniting for the Voice Translated materials
Spread the message in over 45 languagesLife Without Barriers, Reconciliation Australia, SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, Yes23 and Polaron Language Services have worked together to develop these accessible resources. This collection includes a short video, social media tiles and information factsheets in over 45 languages…
Yarn for Yes
There is a lot of information out there and many declarations going on about the Voice right now. There is a lot of diversity amongst First Peoples and Second Peoples across all political divides…Subscribe to our newsletterIf you want to get the latest news from the Uniting Church in Australia then subscribe to our…
Below are a number of resources to learn more about the Voice and the Uluru Statement to help you stay informed or to guide discussion and conversation in your small group or congregation.
What is Indigenous Constitutional Recognition through a Voice?
An online 15–20-minute course which takes you through what is meant by Indigenous Constitutional Recognition through a Voice – and what a Voice to Parliament is, and is not.
A call from Professor Anne Pattel-Gray to churches to support a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament
produced by the School of Indigenous Studies (University of Divinity) and Churches Together South Australia
A lecture on the Uluru Statement and the design of the Voice by Rev Canon Dr Garry Deverell
produced by the School of Indigenous Studies (University of Divinity) and Churches Together South Australia.
Voice, Treaty, Truth Symposium,
Pilgrim Uniting Church
A record of presentations by Rev Chris Budden, Aunty Rev Dr Denise Champion
Keep checking back to this page as new resources and ways to get involved will be added.