In 2023 Australians will participate in an historic referendum on enshrining a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution.

This will be an important moment in our nation’s journey towards reconciliation. It is not the first and it won’t be the last. But it does provide an opportunity for all of us to inform ourselves, to deepen our understanding of the past and make collective decisions about the kind of nation we want to be.

And while the vote itself will be a straightforward—‘yes’ or ‘no’—the social, legal, ethical, economic and historical issues involved are much more complex.

The Academy is encouraging and supporting an evidence-informed national conversation on the Voice; allowing time and space for questions and collective reflection. You can view the Academy’s Statement on the Voice Referendum, released 5 April 2023, here.

Specifically, the Academy is seeking to contribute to the debate by sharing views and insights from our Fellows and other leading social science experts to help inform and educate people about these issues.

As an organisation embarking on our Reconciliation Action Plan, we have also responded to the call from Reconciliation Australia to educate and reflect on our own governance structures in light of the Voice principles.

For National Reconciliation Week 2023, the Academy, in collaboration with the Australian Academies of Technological Sciences & Engineering and of the  Humanities has released a video of an impassioned speech by Joint Fellow The Hon. Dr Barry Jones AC FAA FAHA FTSE FASSA, exploring Australia’s complex history, why we need to come terms with it and why he will be voting ‘Yes!’ in the Voice to Parliament referendum.

Scroll down to find Dr Jones’ video and information from other Academy Fellows and panels discussing the Voice to Parliament.

You can also find more information about the Academy’s commitments and actions towards reconciliation here.

In 2021, the Academy released its State of the Social Sciences in Australia report, which included an analysis of the challenges, opportunities and priorities for advancing reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the social science fields. The report outlined the building blocks for genuine reconciliation in the social sciences: 1) reckoning; 2) learning; 3) investing; and 4) holding space.

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