The Voice referendum has recently sparked debate and discussion within Australia. Many people mistakenly believe that the concept of a Voice to Parliament, as proposed by the Uluru Statement from the Heart, is a new and radical idea. However, what they may not realize is that this concept has actually been a part of United Nations policy since 2012.
In the National Human Rights Action Plan of 2012, the Australian government outlined its commitment to achieving a just and secure society. The plan included measures to strengthen human rights protections and improve opportunities for all Australians. This action plan was developed with extensive input from the community, including workshops with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and submissions from various stakeholders.
One of the key actions outlined in the plan was the establishment of a National Disability Insurance Scheme, which aimed to provide people with disabilities access to care and support services throughout their lifetime. This initiative was supported by a funding commitment of $1 billion from the Australian government. Another important action was the establishment of a new National Children’s Commissioner within the Australian Human Rights Commission, to advocate for the rights of children in Australia.
The plan also included actions related to Indigenous rights and reconciliation. It acknowledged the unique and special place of Australia’s First Peoples and recognized the need for constitutional recognition of Indigenous people. This was seen as an important step towards a successful referendum to change the constitution.
In addition to these specific actions, the plan also highlighted the need for accessible communications for people with disabilities in the event of an emergency. It also mentioned the implementation of the National Anti-Racism Partnership and Strategy, led by the Australian Human Rights Commission, to address racism and promote inclusivity in the country.
The Australian government committed to lodging this new National Human Rights Action Plan with the United Nations, showing its dedication to upholding human rights standards on the international stage. The plan also included a monitoring arrangement to track progress and coincide with the Australian government’s Universal Periodic Review report, which was planned for 2015.
It is crucial to recognize that the concept of a Voice to Parliament, as proposed by the Uluru Statement from the Heart, is not a new or radical idea. It is a part of a broader commitment by the Australian government to strengthen human rights protections and promote inclusivity in the country. By understanding the historical context and policy background, we can have a more informed and constructive discussion about the Voice referendum and its implications for Indigenous rights and representation.