Skip to main content

Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT statement on the October 2023 referendum result

SHFPACT affirmed its support for the referendum proposal put to the Australian electorate in October 2023.


We express our dismay and grief at the referendum result.

We are proud to be in the one Australian State or Territory that affirmed the proposed constitutional acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on this continent before colonisation and settlement, and the proposed establishment of a Voice to Parliament to improve the way Australian governments address the needs of First Nations people and communities.

The referendum proposal risked very little and offered the potential for much on the reconciliation journey we walk together. We know that work continues at the State and Territory level towards recognition, voice, truth telling and treaty.

We continue to affirm that listening to and partnership with the people we serve is the foundation for equity, health and wellbeing.

We acknowledge that the health and wellbeing of our First Nations siblings and communities has been affected by the bias, stereotypes and sometimes outright racism expressed during the referendum campaign. We acknowledge the ongoing effect that this outcome has on our relationships. We respect the time to reflect and heal that some now need.

And we affirm that health and wellbeing outcomes are built on persistent efforts over time and place. We affirm that community-controlled organisations are central to this outcome. The referendum on constitutional acknowledgement and establishment of a Voice to Parliament was one approach offered to the rest of Australia through an extensive process undertaken by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We are at a loss to understand how this approach has been rejected by the Australian electorate. And we understand that significant work remains in efforts to close the gap in life expectancy, health status and wellbeing for indigenous Australians in our society. 

We encourage everyone, and especially those negatively affected by the referendum campaign and result, to reach out to others and make use of the supports that are available:

SHFPACT supports an indigenous Voice

Statement on the October 2023 Referendum proposal

As the time nears for the referendum on recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Constitution, and on the establishment of a Voice to the Australian Parliament, Sexual Healh and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT) has joined other health and community organisations to call on all Australians to vote YES! A YES! vote is a vote for listening to people who are affected when we make decisions. In our work at SHFPACT, nothing is possible without the partnership and communication we have with the people we serve. An advisory body established to bring the perspective, needs and experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the decisions governments make that affect them is the very basis of being person-centred, rights-based and pro-choice. Values we hold dear in all our work.