New survey results show clear public support for constitutional First Nations Voice

Griffith University's annual Walk and Talk for National Reconciliation Week, last held in 2019.

The results from a recent study conducted by CQUniversity Australia and Griffith University have shown clear public support among Australians for the constitutional enshrinement of a First Nations Voice.

The Australian Constitutional Values Survey 2021 measured public attitudes towards establishing an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

Lead researcher Dr Jacob Deem from CQUniversity said the survey results indicated substantial support for a First Nations Voice to Parliament: 62 per cent of respondents were in favour of some form of First Nations Voice, and only one in eight respondents (12.4 per cent) were against the idea.

There was also a clear preference for enshrining the Voice in the Constitution, rather than a simply legislated model.

“More than 50 per cent of respondents were expressly in favour of a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament” (as opposed to 26 per cent in favour of a legislated Voice).”

Asked to explain why they were in favour of or against the Voice, most respondents engaged with the issue on moral and emotive grounds.

“Some respondents viewed the Voice as being an important mechanism for giving First Nations peoples a say or for listening to their perspectives, while others viewed a constitutional Voice as a way of recognising the special status of First Nations peoples as the traditional owners of the land.”

Dr Deem said that low support for a Voice that was simply legislated, without providing Constitutional recognition, showed that Australians want to be included in establishing the Voice.

“A majority of Australians view the Voice as the right course of action, and they want to be a part of that step in Australian history. Compared to constitutional reform, a purely legislative Voice would deny Australians a significant chance to participate in the change,” said Dr Deem.

Foundation lead researcher, Griffith University’s Professor A J Brown said there was clear scope and clear need for political leadership to make both the Voice and Indigenous constitutional recognition a success.

Professor Brown said the results showed major room for more public education and engagement about the Voice.

“After the majority who support, the next largest group of respondents are the ‘undecided’, accounting for around 30 percent.”

“These ‘undecided’ Australians are significant because rather than indicating disinterest or apathy, more than half said they simply did not know enough or needed more details.”

“In particular, many undecided respondents wanted to know how representatives would be chosen and what benefits the Voice would bring for First Nations peoples — underscoring that once the Government’s current Voice Co-Design process is complete, many citizens will be ready to support the plan, especially if a constitutional recognition process then gives them not just reason but need to engage.”

Dr Deem added that The Uluru Statement is expressed as an invitation to walk with First Nations peoples on a journey towards recognition, which includes the constitutional enshrinement of a Voice to Parliament as a crucial step.

“The results of the Australian Constitutional Values Survey 2021 demonstrate that many Australians have taken up this invitation, supporting a constitutionally enshrined Voice.”

The Australian Constitutional Values Survey 2021 surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1511 Australian respondents aged 18-65 plus between 9-18 February 2021. It was founded by Griffith University in 2008 and has been conducted at regular intervals since.