NARI’s strategic vision is for a world where older people are respected, healthy, and included.

Initiatives that recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership – and provide genuine opportunities to shape decisions – are the only way forward towards realising this vision for Indigenous Australians.[1] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing present culturally safe, place-based, and appropriate solutions that address the unique cultural context and intersectional issues that are specific to the health and wellbeing of older First Nations people.[2]

A world where older Indigenous Australians are respected, healthy, and included must be determined not for First Nations people, but by First Nations people. That is why NARI accepts the invitation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk with First Nations people in a movement for a better future.

We support the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

A Voice to Parliament will be a permanent body to make representations to the Australian Parliament and the Executive Government on legislation and policy of significance to First Nations people. It will further the self-determination of First Nations people by respecting their Voice, including those who have historically been excluded from participation, and providing a path towards rectifying the structural challenges that define the extreme but preventable inequalities that First Nations people experience.

Senior Australian of the Year 2023, Kungarakan Elder Professor Tom Calma AO had this to say about the upcoming referendum[3]:

“What Australians will be asked to vote on in the referendum is the principle of whether there should be a Voice…a Voice is symbolic…it addresses past exclusion and provides healing for the future…a Voice is reasonable, because without a formal process to provide advice…policies are often made for First Nations people rather than with us…”

Many organisational statements on the upcoming referendum on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice acknowledge the role of robust public debate in the lead up to the vote. To date, much of this debate has focused on the details that will be determined after the referendum, and indeed will not be determined at all should the referendum not be successful. We are following Professor Calma’s lead by focusing on the principle of whether there should be a Voice.

Now is the time to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution. We support a 'Yes' vote on a Voice to Parliament, in the hope for a future where all older Australians are respected, healthy, and included.

Professor Briony Dow, Director
July 2023

Download our full statement here.

[1] Transforming Power: Voices for Generational Change, a report prepared by the Lowitja Institute for the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee, March 2022.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Professor Tom Calma, Senior Australian of the Year 2023 acceptance speech, 25 January 2023.

Yellow 'Yes' artwork courtesy of ©Yes23