Catholic Social Services Voice to Parliament Webinar: Moments for healing this country

Professor Melissa Castan, Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, will kick off the new series on Thursday, 25 May.

16 May 2023

Catholic Social Services Victoria and Catholic Social Services Australia have opened registration for their three-part webinar series on this year’s Voice to Parliament referendum.

The Indigenous Voice to Parliament: Moments for healing this country event will bring together a range of speakers to interrogate why this democratic decision is happening in 2023, and how either a positive or negative outcome of the referendum will be a defining moment for Australia.

Professor Melissa Castan, Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, will kick off the webinar series on Thursday, May 25. She will explore questions including: What is the history surrounding the referendum? Should First Nations people have a Voice in Parliament? Why is it being proposed as an adaption to the Australian Constitution?

The second webinar will be given by Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO, who will look at how the Church has engaged in Aboriginal affairs, why Catholics should take serious interest in the referendum, and how they might approach their vote from a context of Catholic Social Teaching.

The final session in the joint webinar series will feature three different voices of First Nations peoples – Uncle Ron Briggs of Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, Aunty Violet Sheridan, an Ngunnawal Elder (Canberra) and Esmai Manahan from MacKillop Family Services –who will form a reflective panel that will consider what the Voice means for them, and what the referendum might mean for their communities and Australia.

CSSA executive director Monique Earsman said: “As the referendum approaches, discussions in the media and our communities will intensify, and some may attempt to create divisions or spread fear. We aim for our three events to ease those concerns and tensions while providing a platform for thoughtful and well-reasoned debate.”

Register now

Learn more

Researchers at the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law continue to compile timely factsheets, articles, publications, and multimedia content on our First Nations Voice to Parliament Resources Website. This resource space is focused on supporting and responding to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, offering easily accessible public educational materials and thorough legal analyses to keep you well-informed throughout this year. We work closely with the William Cooper Institute and Monash University to highlight our contributions to a democratic referendum. For more information on Monash University’s commitment see