In order to change the Australian Constitution a referendum will see Australian voters set to take to the polls between October and December this year.
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The draft referendum question that will be put to voters in 2023 is whether to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice in Parliament.
In a proactive move to see voters informed before they take to the polls later in the year, Dubbo Regional councillor Pam Wells put forward a motion at the recent council meeting on Thursday, May 25 that was unanimously voted upon.
The council will develop a program centred on information, education and participating to support the community make an informed decision on the subject.
The council will also hold an internal workshop for councillors to consider the educational material regarding the proposed Indigenous Voice in Parliament with a subsequent report to be provided to the council for consideration detailing any logistical or financial considerations.
Cr Wells said she wanted to make sure residents were ready to make an informed decision in a safe way before going to the polls.
"Nobody is going to be against you depending on your vote, there will be no retribution for any particular person," she said.
"Regardless of whether you are a strong yes voter or a strong no voter, the council needs to provide the additional information across the community."
The Electoral Commission NSW shows 58,397 in the Dubbo electorate are registered to vote but the number of people not registered is, according to Cr Wells, "alarming".
"People need to be able to choose their voting preferences rather than ignore the referendum or any election for that matter, whether it's a local, state or federal election, it's really important that people are registered to vote," Cr Wells said.
As part of her motion, the council will also promote the importance of registering on the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to enable people to have a voice and counted vote.
Councillor Josh Black said the Indigenous community was already over represented by people who are not Indigenous.
"Getting as many people from the Aboriginal community to register to vote would be a very positive move and also getting people to know what they're actually voting for," he said.
"You talk to people and they say 'what's it all about?', if we can inform people of what the vote is actually used for and they can make an informed choice, that's a good thing."
Deputy mayor Richard Ivey said it was important when creating the education program they didn't make the referendum become divisive.
"You can have a no view and you can have a yes view, what we need to do is make sure that both sides of the argument appreciate the others position and accept their position," he said.
"We mustn't let it, no matter the result, we mustn't let it become divisive and I think if council and this education program can go one little bit towards reducing that divisiveness, it will be really and truly worthwhile."
In her right of reply, councillor Wells said this referendum was for the nation and not just Aboriginal people.
"It's important that we lock arms as allies and go to the polls as allies, it's not just for Aboriginal people," she said.
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