In this file photo dated Jan 26, 2018 shows Stedman Sailor stands in front of the Aboriginal Australian Flag as he arrives with other members of the Aboriginal community to take part in a smoking ceremony as part of Australia Day celebrations in Sydney. (PHOTO / AP)
CANBERRA - The lower house of Australia's Parliament has passed legislation to establish a referendum on the Indigenous Voice proposal.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday morning voted 121-25 in favor of the government's Constitution Alteration Bill. Lawmakers clapped and cheered as the final numbers of the vote were read out.
The bill will now head to the Senate before the government sets a date for the poll later in 2023 wherein Australians will be asked to vote in a referendum
It means Australians are now one step closer to voting on whether to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the country's first referendum since 1999.
The bill will now head to the Senate before the government sets a date for the poll later in 2023 wherein Australians will be asked to vote in a referendum, likely to be held between October and December.
If successful, the referendum would alter the constitution to recognize First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice and establish the Voice as a body that would advise the federal parliament on issues relating to Indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal people, making up about 3.2 percent of Australia's near 26 million population, track below national averages on most socio-economic measures and are not mentioned in the 122-year-old constitution. They were marginalised by British colonial rulers and not granted voting rights until the 1960s.
The vote in Parliament coincided with more than 100 Australian migrant and cultural organizations joining forces to declare their support for the voice.
The community organizations released a joint resolution asking for all Australians to work together on ensuring a referendum on the proposal is successful.
"We're one step closer to holding a referendum on constitutional recognition through the Voice in 2023," Linda Burney, the Minister for Indigenous Australians said in a tweet after the outcome of the vote was announced.