On October 14, 2023, Australians will be asked to vote in a referendum.
The problem is, a large number of people, even those in the reasonably well educated, informed, progressive bubble that is my friendship network, don’t really understand exactly what it is they’re voting for.
Despite voting in Australian elections being compulsory, turnout has gradually been on the decline, suggesting that more and more people are just switching off. They’ve heard that we’re being asked to vote for a “voice to parliament”, as well as something about constitutional recognition, but they don’t really know what that all means. Predictably, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, as well as some terrific articles that dispel myths and explain things in detail… but there wasn’t anything I could see that summed things up in one page.
Enter the infographic
I don’t pretend to be any kind of civics expert or constitutional lawyer. But I think I understand enough about how the Australian parliament operates, and what is being proposed in the referendum, to confidently draw a picture summarising what’s being proposed, and why. So that’s what I did.
In the image I’ve broken up the hurdles to people understanding the referendum into three sections:
- Why change is needed
- Who proposed the idea of a voice, and
- What it would look like (including a simplified version of how the Australian parliament currently operates)
While it’s probably clear from some of the annotations where I land on this issue, I tried not to make this piece of communication that would push one side or the other. It’s intended to be educational; to dispel any misinformation around what is being proposed, and help people feel confident on the day that they’re making an informed decision. Finding the right balance between including enough information that people who aren’t aware of the background can get context, but not overloading the page, was a real challenge.
What do you think? Did this help you to understand the Voice To Parliament referendum? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Update: A high resolution PDF of the infographic is available for download as well.