With extensive rolling coverage of the federal referendum, you may have missed the establishment of the South Australian First Nations Voice to Parliament.
Back in March, South Australia became the first Australian jurisdiction to pass a bill legislating a state Indigenous Voice to parliament.
Separate from the federal Voice, the initiative is intended to provide a direct line of communication for elected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with the SA parliament.
We spoke with the Electoral Commission of South Australia’s Director of Advertising and Communications, James Trebilcock, about the key dates, enrolment and nomination process for the upcoming elections and differences between the state and federal Voice.
Six regions across South Australia will feature an elected body, with only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders eligible to vote and nominate for this election.
Successful nominees will form the local First Nations Voice, with each region choosing two joint presiding members to represent their region on the state Voice.
How do I participate?
- ENROL through the Australian Electoral Commission before 5:00 pm on 2 August 2023
- NOMINATE as a candidate from 17 July 2023
- VOTE on 9 September 2023
Local First Nations Voices
The local First Nations Voices will represent the voices of First Nations people at the local community level.
Each local First Nations Voice will be established through an election.
All elected members will be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People living in South Australia. They will be elected by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in the region.
What will the local First Nations Voices do?
The local First Nations Voice bodies will be gender balanced and represent communities across the state.
The local Voices will:
- talk to and listen to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about issues that matter to them
- engage with government or other organisations in the local area, including local councils.
- share their community’s views with the state First Nations Voice.
Each local First Nations Voice will choose two joint presiding members – these presiding members will then make up the state First Nations Voice.
Where is my local First Nations Voice?
South Australia’s local First Nations Voices will be made up of 6 regions across South Australia.
These regions have been set up after engagement with the community and advice from community leaders and experts.
- Region 1 (Central) – 11 elected members (due to the higher population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this region)
- Region 2 (Far North) – 7 elected members
- Region 3 (Flinders and Upper North) – 7 elected members
- Region 4 (Riverland and South East) – 7 elected members
- Region 5 (West and West Coast) – 7 elected members
- Region 6 (Yorke and Mid-North) – 7 elected members.
State First Nations Voice
The state First Nations Voice will be made up of the two presiding members from each local First Nations Voice.
What will the state First Nations Voice do?
The state First Nations Voice will:
- hear the views of each local First Nations Voice
- form state-wide views and positions that represent the diversity of First Nations people in South Australia
- present views and priorities to the South Australian parliament, ministers, and government chief executives.
How will the state Voice speak to South Australia’s parliament?
The state Voice will be able to speak directly to South Australia’s Parliament in a number of ways.
- Annual address
The state Voice will provide an annual address to South Australia’s parliament about activity from the past year and any matters of interest to First Nations people.
This will be delivered by one of the joint presiding members in a joint sitting of both houses of parliament.
The state First Nations Voice must provide (to the joint sitting) a written report of its operations over the previous year. It must also present a written report that provides a summary of the operations of each local Voice (the reports may be combined).
- Views on draft laws
The state Voice can make an address to the Parliament on any Bill (draft law) of interest to First Nations people.
The state First Nations Voice can make one address for each Bill in either house of Parliament it chooses and can speak on other occasions with the permission of the Parliament.
The Parliament must give the state Voice notice of all Bills that are introduced into either house of Parliament.
- Providing reports
The state Voice can provide reports to the Parliament on matters of interest, which the Government will be required to respond to, outlining what, if any action, they are taking in response (in a set period).
The Parliament can also request a report or a verbal address from the state Voice about a Bill that is being considered. The state First Nations Voice can accept or deny this request.
This information was provided by the Electoral Commission of South Australia.