The referendum result is a profound disappointment to us all

Statement from Reconciliation Australia:

Despite this setback the work of reconciliation is needed now more than ever.

Reconciliation Australia has been part of the long process which led to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the simple and modest proposition rejected tonight.

As we grapple with this weekend’s outcome, we must also grapple with the ugly acts of racism and disinformation that have been a feature of the debate despite regular calls for respectful engagement.

All Australians must ask ourselves whether this is a standard we are comfortable with.

While the results are devastating, they are not the first setback to the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This is a familiar story and one that has never deterred Indigenous Elders and leaders to be a voice for change. We pay homage to their courage and example. The fight for justice and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will continue.

Reconciliation Australia is buoyed by the enormous contributions to the Yes campaign by the tens of thousands of ordinary Australians who spanned political beliefs and who volunteered their time and support, who walked for recognition, and who repeatedly and patiently explained the Voice and its benefits to Australia.

This weekend, as a nation we stumbled on our reconciliation journey. We must acknowledge and sit with this.

However, we are confident that in due course, the millions of Australians who voted Yes, and those who voted No but who are committed to better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, will unite for a more just Australia.

Now is a time for healing.

While the work of reconciliation must continue, as we regroup, we will be led by how First Nations people wish to engage.

Clearly the imperatives for Indigenous Australians have not changed and the issues written about so eloquently in the Uluru Statement remain to be addressed.

Listening to the voices of First Nations peoples and providing opportunities for all Australians to learn from the vast knowledge and experiences which First Nations people possess, will ensure the best outcomes for this nation.

We are determined to continue the journey of reconciliation and remain confident that away from the noise and clamour of the recent campaign, millions of Australians will ensure that the status quo does not remain.

The powerful movement built over the past few months is not going away.

View the original statement.

Media contact

ATSIEB Secretariat

(02) 6205 2551

Media release

16 October 2023


Acknowledgement of Country


The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body acknowledges the traditional custodians of Canberra, and those who have made it their home. We celebrate their ongoing culture and contribution to the ACT and surrounding regions.