In a historic moment, the State Government will this week introduce a bill to legislate for Australia's first Voice to Parliament for First Nations People.

The First Nations Voice Bill 2023 will establish the Voice, and allow South Australia to take a significant step towards implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The Government will also allocate $10 million over the forward estimates to support the establishment and ongoing operation of the First Nations Voice.

The Bill will be introduced to Parliament on Thursday and marks the culmination of months of work, including two extensive rounds of engagement with First Nations communities and the broader community around the State led by the Commissioner for First Nations Voice Dale Agius.

It proposes a connected, direct and independent line of communication for First Nations people to South Australia's Parliament and the government, to allow important, shared communication by locally elected regional members.

Modifications made as the result of engagement include:

  • alterations allowing for the Voice to address either the House of Assembly or the Legislative Council in relation to any specific Bill which is considered of interest to the state Voice
  • the establishment of specific committees representing young persons, Elders, Native Title holders and members of the Stolen Generations, to advise the State First Nations Voice
  • provisions designed to ensure that the Voice does not impact on Native Title agreements or other First Nations organisations
  • a clearer definition of the terms 'First Nations person' and 'Traditional Owner'.

It is intended that a group of community leaders will consider the various views expressed during consultations and make recommendations on the boundaries for the local First Nations Voices under the model, with the final boundaries to be prescribed in regulations.

Quotes attributable to Premier Peter Malinauskas

Four years ago, I committed to deliver the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Today - we are taking a major step forward in reconciliation. But it is not the last.

This will be a genuine Voice to Parliament in the true sense of the word.

This is a nation-leading opportunity for South Australia to demonstrate to the rest of the country the benefits of giving our First Nations people greater say in the development of laws and policies that affect their lives.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Kyam Maher

This is a defining moment for South Australia - long-overdue, the recognition of our state's First people and an acknowledgement that we can do more to listen to their views.

This is, in essence, about ensuring First Nations people have more of a say in the decisions that affect their lives.

The development of this Bill has been done hand in hand with South Australia's Aboriginal communities.

Dale Agius has been a passionate advocate for the voice and has done tremendous work in ensuring Aboriginal people from across the State have been able to have input into this vital, historic opportunity for First Nations people across South Australia, and I thank him for his dedication and efforts.

Quotes attributable to Commissioner for First Nations Voice Dale Agius

This is about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a platform to share knowledge, wisdom, and aspirations for the future, and to be included in the decision-making process.

I have released a note outlining the feedback from the second round of community engagement. We spoke with many communities during the second round with enthusiasm and excitement for what a Voice can do.

I received several submissions and accepted the feedback. Overwhelmingly, people continued to show support for the Voice.

I have made a series of recommendations to Government to address important points of community feedback from engagement sessions and public submissions. I am pleased to see our Government has taken onboard those recommendations by the community and have added those into the Bill that is being introduced.