Victorian Ombudsman Statement on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament

Date posted:

The Victorian Ombudsman makes this statement in line with our ongoing commitment to reconciliation with the First Peoples of Australia and the overwhelming support of Victorian Ombudsman staff.

This is about the principle of empowering First Peoples of Australia to have a voice and be heard at the highest possible level of law and policy making across the country.

The Victorian Ombudsman makes this statement in light of the United Nations resolution on the role of the Ombudsman to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, good governance and respect for the rule of law. It is also made in accordance with the commitments in our Reconciliation Action Plan to promote reconciliation with First Nations peoples and uphold their human right to be heard and participate in public life.

The Ombudsman investigates all aspects of public service delivery, from prisons, child protection and public housing to education, planning, health, and social welfare schemes. Through this lens, the Ombudsman sees the disadvantage faced by First Nations peoples as a consequence of unjust laws, policies, and practices that have been embedded over generations since colonisation.

We investigate human rights issues and have seen the significant advances that can come from giving a voice to those aggrieved by the actions of government agencies and public organisations. We have observed the benefits to disadvantaged people, to the broader community and to the quality of public administration.

We recognise the special importance of human rights to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, with their diverse spiritual, social, cultural, and economic relationship with their traditional lands and waters.

We recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were the first sovereign nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands.

In respecting this and in light of the Ombudsman’s experience, we support the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the need for constitutional, legislative and structural reform which will empower and enable First Nations peoples to have a voice and occupy ‘a rightful place’ in this country.

An Indigenous Voice to Parliament will promote and protect the human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It will also enhance the quality of actions by government.