Woman and teenager smiling at camera

Statement on the Voice by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

This year, Australians will vote in a referendum to recognise the First Nations of Australia by enshrining in the constitution an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute recognises that all Australians need to be informed and make their own decision on the referendum and that there will be a diversity of views across peoples and communities. Our Executive committee has been engaged on an important learning journey with our Aboriginal Reference Group during the past four years.

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Executive committee collectively supports a ‘Yes’ to recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through a Voice to Parliament and Government. The Uluru Statement from the Heart was an invitation from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to walk together in support of voice, truth-telling and treaty. We support this invitation and recognise that the futures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children lie at the core of the Uluru Statement.

The vision of Murdoch Children’s Research Institute is to give all children the opportunity to live a healthy and fulfilled life. We are still learning about how best to support the self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations and in what ways our Institute may work towards the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations children at the core of the Uluru Statement. Whilst we acknowledge the diversity of views across non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Australia, our Institute is striving to be both accountable and responsive to the needs and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people, and families in Victoria and nationally. Supporting the Voice to Parliament is a historic opportunity and an important step towards this.

Voice To Parliament

L-R: Professor Andrew Steer; Mr Marcus Stewart; Ms Helen Kennedy; Mr Tony Garvey


Today, on National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, the Executive Committee of Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has announced its support for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

The statement was drafted in close collaboration with the Institute’s Aboriginal Reference Group, which provides strategic guidance and cultural advice to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Leadership Team, Institute Director Professor Kathryn North AC and the Institute’s Executive.

PhD candidate Helen Kennedy is a proud descendant of the Trawlwoolway and Plairmairrener clans from north-east Tasmania and is the Chairperson of the Institute’s Aboriginal Reference Group. Helen researches ways to improve the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal children in Victorian out of home care.

“The theme of this year’s Aboriginal Children’s Day is ‘Little Voices, Loud Futures’ and the Institute’s Executive carefully and deliberately chose this day to release its statement supporting the Voice,” she said.

“Supporting the Yes Vote is positive step forward in achieving greater health equity for our children and future generations, which is a basic and fundamental human right.

“Enshrining an Aboriginal Voice to Parliament in the constitution acknowledges that the best health and wellbeing outcomes for our children can be achieved when First Nations people are involved in policy and decisions that affect them. Importantly, this will also ensure that we as researchers and clinicians can be confident that national priorities are being set by the people those priorities are meant to help.”

Professor North said, “Improving the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families is a priority of the Institute and as our statement makes clear, we continually aspire to learn how to do better in this area.

“Supporting the Voice is, we believe, a fundamental step in building meaningful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities in Victoria and nationally. This is critical to our ability to work effectively in improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“As the Uluru Statement says, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children should be our hope for the future.”

Available for interview

Helen Kennedy; Murdoch Children’s PhD candidate; proud Trawlwoolway and Plairmairrener woman, Chair, Murdoch Children’s Aboriginal Reference Group

Professor Andrew Steer, Murdoch Children’s Theme Director, Infection, Immunity and Global Health. Professor Steer and his team are developing a vaccine for Strep A, which disproportionately affects First Nations children.

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About MCRI

Murdoch Children's Research Institute is the largest child health research institute in Australia committed to making discoveries and developing treatments to improve child and adolescent health in Australia and around the world. They are pioneering new treatments, trialling better vaccines and improving ways of diagnosing and helping sick babies, children and adolescents. It is one of the only research institutes in Australia to offer genetic testing to find answers for families of children with previously undiagnosed conditions.