The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has ramped up its communication campaign for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum set to take place later this year.
While the Yes and No campaigns get underway in earnest, the AEC’s campaign is to ensure voting Australians understand what the referendum is all about and what their roles and voting rights are.
From this week, the AEC is increasing its efforts to reach the nation’s 17.3 million enrolled voters to inform them of why a referendum is necessary if a government is seeking to change the Constitution.
A range of educational resources, including AEC TV videos, animations, graphics and fact sheets, will be progressively distributed to help voters understand the referendum.
The social media accounts of the AEC will continue to be an active proactive and reactive presence, delivering messages regarding the history and role of federal referendums.
Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers noted that Australians have not voted in a federal referendum in almost a quarter of a century, with more than 6.4 million enrolled voters not of voting age when the previous referendum was held in 1999.
While it is not the AEC’s role to explain the topic of a referendum, it is important for the body conducting the vote to explain to voters how it all plays out.
“Our aim is for Australians to feel comfortable voting in a referendum and know how the process works,” the Commissioner said.
“We’re taking all the necessary first steps to kick off an education phase for the Australian public in order for all to understand how referendums work and the AEC’s role.
“The Constitution plays an active, daily role in the lives of Australians but it’s not on everyone’s coffee table at home, so it’s appropriate that ahead of a referendum we explain what it is and the upcoming process that seeks to change a part of it.
“More than 6.4 million enrolled voters have never voted in a referendum before. Some may not even know that it is compulsory to vote in a referendum and you will need to vote in person, similar to a federal election.
“The topic of the referendum is for others to debate but when it comes to the process, we’ll be running it and we’re here to help inform Australian voters and answer any questions they might have.
“Knowing what the Constitution is and what the role of a referendum is will clearly be vital in providing a solid foundation for how people consider their opportunity to vote in the back half of 2023.”
Digital advertising, media outreach and the distribution of curated products through community groups and other stakeholders will all point back to a dedicated referendum sub-site, which is now live.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the proposed question on 23 March, following the unanimous passage in the Senate of the machinery bill stipulating how the referendum will work.
The question will read:
A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?
While the Prime Minister is hoping the country will vote yes in sufficient numbers, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is urging Australians to vote no.