Submission to the Joint select committee on the Voice Referendum

Mental Health Australia has submitted a statement to the Joint Select Committee, in support of the proposed alteration to the Australian Constitution to include an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Mental Health Australia believes that self-determination is crucial to address the significant disparity in mental health and well-being outcomes between First Nations and other Australians. The First Nations Voice is an opportunity for structural reform to empower ongoing self-determination, and Mental Health Australia supports the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The statement recognises the years of conversation and significant consultation that have preceded this proposed legislation.

Mental Health Australia is also deeply concerned about the impacts of the ongoing public debate related to this referendum on the wellbeing of First Nations peoples — with the significant potential for increased racism, discrimination and deficit-based focus which are strongly associated with negative mental health impacts for First Nations peoples. Mental Health Australia implores all political leaders to exhibit and support respectful dialogue which prioritises the wellbeing of First Nations peoples.

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