Talking about the Voice: A conversation without the noise

Watch the video recording of our recent panel discussion, explaining the issues surrounding the Voice to Parliament and the upcoming referendum.

18 September 2023

On Wednesday, 6 September 2023 the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University in conjunction with the Australian Association of Constitutional Law, Griffith University, and The University of Queensland, presented a discussion on the upcoming referendum in Australia regarding the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

Hosted by Professor Melissa Castan, Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, the webinar emphasises the importance of understanding the referendum process and the potential impact of the proposed constitutional change, in resetting the relationship between the Australian state and Indigenous communities. The discussion explores the cultural and political complexities surrounding the representation of First Nations Peoples and the significance of the proposed constitutional amendment in Australian law and politics.

Tune in

Talking about the Voice: A conversation without the noise will be broadcast on ABC Radio National Big Ideas on Thursday 28 September at 8pm.

Visit the program website

Our expert panel, including Professor Luke Beck, Professor A J Brown AM, Associate Professor Kate Galloway and Dr Dani Larkin, discuss topics such as:

  • An overview of the Voice to Parliament and its significance in the context of Australian law and politics.
  • Why we have to hold a referendum and some of the challenges with achieving a successful referendum.
  • The main arguments in favour of establishing a Voice to Parliament, and how the Voice to Parliament might address historical injustices faced by Indigenous Australians.
  • The words of the referendum itself and what the referendum amendment is actually proposing.
  • The extent to which the Voice to Parliament can ensure representation and inclusivity for all Indigenous communities and even dissenting groups.
  • How the Parliament can ensure the Voice has transparency, accountability and efficacy in its operations and decision-making processes, and its engagement with the government.
  • Misinformation, confusion and assertions about the referendum, and why lying in political advertising as opposed to commercial advertising is legal.
  • The potential enduring impact of the Voice to Parliament on Indigenous rights, Australian society, and the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Throughout the presentation, the panel responded to questions from the audience to create a highly engaging and educational experience. The panel stressed that the Voice proposal is not about taking away from others, but about unity, justice, and respect. They encouraged people to engage with resources and information available on the subject and make an informed decision, urging all Australians to consider this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for positive change.

Watch the webinar recording


Professor Melissa Castan - Monash University
Melissa Castan is the Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, and Associate Dean (Staffing) in the Law Faculty. She has over 25 years experience teaching, researching and publishing in Australian Public Law, Constitutional law, Human Rights Law, Indigenous Legal Issues and Legal Education. Her most recent book is Time to Listen - An Indigenous Voice to Parliament with Professor Lynette Russell (2023, Monash University Press).

Professor Luke Beck - Monash University
Luke Beck is a Professor of Constitutional Law. He is also Associate Dean (Education) of the Faculty of Law. Luke is a leading scholar in the field of separation of religion and government and religious freedom under the Australian Constitution. He has also published on various other aspects of constitutional and public law, including misinformation in political advertising, referendum law and freedom of speech issues.

Professor A J Brown AM - Griffith University
A J Brown AM is professor of public policy and law in the School of Government & International Relations, and co-leader of the Centre for Governance & Public Policy’s integrity, leadership and public trust program. A 30-year veteran of developments in Australia’s public integrity systems, he has previously worked or consulted at all levels, and across all branches of government in Australia. He is a member of the Australian and global boards of Transparency International, the world anti-corruption organisation, where in 2019-2020 he led the development of TI's current worldwide strategy 'Holding Power to Account, 2021-2030'.

Associate Professor Kate Galloway - Griffith University
Kate Galloway is a lawyer, and academic at Griffith Law School who researches and teaches in property law. She is particularly interested in land tenure and the law's effect on land rights, principally for First Nations people in Australia. She investigates the intersection of property as private law, and sovereignty as the public law manifestation of rights over land. Drawing on her research and her experience in community legal education, Kate is currently leading community engagement in learning about the rationale for the Voice proposal, enabling voters to make an informed choice in the referendum.

Dr Dani Larkin - University of Queensland
Dani Larkin is a Bundjalung, Kungarakany woman from Grafton, New South Wales, a public lawyer, and a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Queensland, Australia (UQ). Dr Larkin’s research interests include issues that surround constitutional recognition and political empowerment of Indigenous peoples, self-determination and electoral law and policy reform.

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