At headspace Townsville, we acknowledge the impact that the public discussion about the Voice to Parliament has on our First Nations young people and communities. We recognise the emotional challenges these conversations can have.
We’re here to support you, no matter your decision.
headspace proudly supports young people along their mental health journey, as well as their families and friends, regardless of race, gender, religion or political position.
We are here when you need us, where you need us.
The discussions around the Voice to Parliament can be tricky to navigate, so we’ve put together some information to help.
What is a referendum?
A referendum is a national vote on a question about a proposed change to the Constitution – in this case, whether to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
A referendum requires a majority of votes in a majority of states to succeed. If the vote is successful, parliament will then design the Voice via legislation.
All Australian citizens aged 18 and over must vote in the upcoming referendum.
You can find out more in the Australian Electoral Commission's (AEC) Official Referendum Booklet.
How to enrol to vote
If this is your first time voting, you’ll need to enrol to vote. Voting is compulsory by law for Australian citizens 18 years and older.
If you're enrolled for elections, you're enrolled for referendums too.
If you’re not sure or you need to update your details, you can check on the AEC website here.
To enrol you will need a drivers license number, passport number, medicare card number, Australian citizen number or have someone who is enrolled confirm your identity.
How and where to vote
The referendum voting day will be Saturday 14 October 2023.
The AEC will open thousands of polling places around the country (these are often in schools or community centres). Polling places will be open between 8am and 6pm, local time, on voting day.
If you are unable to attend a polling booth on the day (for example due to work, travel or illness) you can cast an early vote. Early voting centres will progressively open and be available over the two weeks before voting day.
You can find more info here - https://www.aec.gov.au/referendums/vote/vote-in-person.html
Never voted before?
Don’t worry – here’s a run-down of what to expect on voting day!
Outside the polling place you may see other voters or people handing out “How to vote” cards from both yes and no supporters – you don’t have to take any if you don’t want to.
Inside the polling place there will be AEC staff there assist you. When you approach the table they will ask for your name and where you live so they can mark you off on the electoral roll. AEC staff will then give you a ballot paper to take over to the cardboard voting screens.
Follow the instructions on the ballot paper for your vote to count. You should write 'Yes' if you agree with this proposed change to the Constitution, or you should write 'No' if you do not agree.
Once you’ve filled out the ballot paper, put it in the sealed ballot box.
If you make a mistake or need help at all, simply ask the AEC staff member to help.
What is the Voice to Parliament?
On the 14th of October 2023, Australians will have their say in a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution through an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
The Voice will be an independent, representative advisory body for First Nations peoples. It will provide a permanent means to advise the Australian Parliament and Government on the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on matters that affect them.
The referendum question
"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 alteration?"
Click here to read the proposed alteration to the constitution.
Making an informed decision
You have the right to decide how to vote.
With social media, the news, blogs, conversations with family and friends – it can be overwhelming and difficult to find trusted information.
Here are some links that may help:
- Uluru Statement From the Heart: A Voice to Parliament Training Module
- The Voice Community Tool Kit
- Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) Yes, No Referendum Pamphlet
Remember, you don’t always have to agree with the people around you, your family or your friends.
The choice is yours, but please always be kind and respectful of others’ opinions.
Accessing supports for you and your mob
There are many different opinions within our broader communities, and this can directly impact the mental health of all. In the lead-up to the referendum and beyond, know that it’s ok to reach out for support.
Connect with your local headspace centre or head online for support and resources.
- eheadspace – resources and one-on-one phone and online support
- Visit: eheadspace.org.au
- Call: 1800 650 890 (seven days a week from 9am to 1am)
- Yarnspace – join a fortnightly chat for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people
- Take a Step – resources for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
If you’re in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, contact mental health services, go to your local emergency department or call emergency services on 000.
If you need to speak to someone urgently, call Lifeline 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.
headspace Townsville is committed to ensuring that all young people feel safe and welcome to access our services, and we do not wish to cause anyone to disengage or not engage with support because of a public position on a political or social matter.
We work closely with First Nations communities to design respectful and culturally informed services. We will continue to build on our strong relationships and support our communities into the future.