Expert alert: Voice to Parliament referendum

Now the date of the Voice to Parliament referendum has been set for October 14, La Trobe University academics are available to discuss the referendum and what to expect in the next six weeks.

Contact the La Trobe University Media Team to speak with experts below or use the email addresses listed.

Dr Madelaine Chiam

Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching, La Trobe Law School


Dr Chiam’s research is primarily in public international law, in particular the histories of international law, the relationships between the global and the local, and the role of international law in Australian life.

The following can be attributed to Dr Chiam:

“There are two legal elements to a constitutional referendum: the process of the referendum and the substance of the referendum.

“The referendum voting process is different to an election vote – all voters are given the same question and they must answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the ballot paper.

“The question that voters are asked to answer contains the substance of the proposed change. In this referendum, voters are being asked whether they approve altering the Constitution by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

“This is the only question voters are being asked. Other questions about, for example, the design and membership of a Voice, are left to Parliament to decide.”

Emeritus Professor Dennis Altman

Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow


The following can be attributed to Emeritus Professor Altman:

“There are lessons to be drawn from the campaign for marriage equality, and the current debate on the First Nations Voice to Parliament.

“I understand the rage and despair that leads Indigenous peoples to reject the Voice as no more than another feel-good attempt to integrate them into a hostile state. I shared a similar view about same-sex marriage; like other lesbians and gay men of my generation, I was rather proud of the fact that our relationships needed the blessings of neither the state nor the church to flourish.

“But whatever our views on the issue, we knew that the marriage vote was about more than simply changing the Marriage Act. The same is true of the Voice. Whatever its defects, the symbolism of a Yes vote is to support greater recognition and equality of Indigenous peoples.”

Professor Andrea Carson

Professor of Political Communication, Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy.


Professor Carson is conducting research with fellow political scientists to analyse referendum campaigning through social and mainstream media and polling data providing fortnightly updates.

The following can be attributed to Professor Carson:

“With the announcement of the date of the referendum, the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns are about to be supercharged as both sides begin a six-week countdown to voting day.

“Analysis so far tells us the ‘yes’ campaign has a lot of ground to cover if it is to succeed. But as with any voting campaign, much can change as public attention sharpens as polling day looms.”

Voice referendum: is the 'yes' or 'no' camp winning on social media, advertising spend and in the polls? (

Professor Richard Broome

Emeritus Professor, History


Professor Broome can comment on the long history of colonial control in Australia and the need to hear First Nations voices on a sustained, organised and permanent way. Professor Broome believes recognition should be given constitutional status.

The following can be attributed to Professor Broome:

"For generations since 1788 First Nations people have been subject to management and control through special and discriminatory legislation. It is now time to listen in a sustained, organised and permanent way to create true equality.

"Australians have been told only half our nation’s story for too long. It is time to opened ourselves up to the other half. The voice will facilitate the telling of a new shared story that will unite a still divided nation.

"Recognition of First Nations peoples in the Constitution is 122 years overdue. This is not a special right, but a recognition of prior rights and custodianship of Country."

Dr Dominic Kelly

Honorary Research Fellow, Politics


Dr Kelly’s research focuses on Australian conservatism in all its guises, both historical and contemporary. He has written extensively about the way conservatives have responded to Indigenous calls for self-determination, reconciliation and recognition.

The following can be attributed to Dr Kelly:

“Voice advocates could hardly have been more moderate in the way they have expressed their desire for a new relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians based on peace and unity.

“But conservatives continue to stoke fears about separatism and the break-up of the Australian nation, repeating the same talking points they have used for decades in response to every Indigenous claim for land, justice and equality.”

Hearing the Voice over the noise

What a 20th-century German intellectual can tell us about the Voice debate

Contact the La Trobe University Media Team