Naarm Law Students On Voice

Naarm Law Students on Voice 2023

In 2023 the Indigenous Law and Justice Hub partnered with Naarm Law Students on Voice, who delivered high-quality Referendum information sessions on the Voice to Parliament proposal.

Oover 90 MLS students collaborated to deliver a community legal education program on the 2023 Referendum. The goal was to address the misinformation that was circulating amongst members of the public on the design and purpose of the proposed constitutional amendment. They formed “Naarm Law Students on Voice”, an indigenous-led, community-informed and culturally safe program which provides fact-based and neutral community legal education.

Working with legal experts and in consultation with the Hub, they developed a twenty-minute presentation with the primary goal being to assist the community to have culturally-safe and accurate conversations with friends, family and colleagues prior to the Referendum.

Naarm Students on Voice leaders Keshi Moore and Maggie Blanden were nominated for the 2023 Australian Human Rights Award, Young People’s Award, for their work on this momentous campaign. Read more here.

Watch the whole information session (20 minutes):

Naarm Law Students on Voice say:

We found, leading up to this referendum that our friends and our family had lots of different questions about what it was actually about. And given that there's quite a lot of opinions, potentially misinformation that's been flying around, particularly in the media, we thought it was really important to be able to address this as law students. So for a start, it's pretty hard to identify facts from fiction, um, with an example being that there's no requirement that the yes or the no campaigns are fact checked. And so Naarm Law Students on Voice was born from this.

Naarm Law Students On Voice

Kaitlin Jempson, one of the facilitators with Naarrm Law Students on Voice and a student in the Hub’s Law and Indigenous Peoples’ elective says:

'My experience of facilitating the sessions has been overwhelmingly positive, but also pretty varied in terms of the group that I have presented to, their knowledge base and their receptiveness to the information surrounding the referendum. Some individuals and groups have come to Naarm Law Students on Voice to get a more informed perspective on the referendum and that is because they are wanting to get help in terms of having conversations with other people and they’re wanting to do their part.

Overall the school groups have been the most curious, the most engaged and they have actually asked some of the most intelligent questions and genuine questions.

A lots of people have asked us to give arguments for and against the Voice and at that point in the presentation we have often gained their trust as people who are going to give a factual and neutral answer in terms of the information that is circulating around.'

Cara, another facilitator who has also taken our Law and Indigenous Peoples class noted:

‘The experience of facilitating the sessions has been quite eye-opening because what I’ve found that people have been really eager to hear what the referendum is all about, but they have also been finding it really hard to cut through the misinformation that is out there.’

Kaitlin also added:

'In terms of the most unique, or the questions which are standing out to me the most, its overwhelmingly and maybe surprisingly or not surprisingly coming from  High Schoolers – at one of my most recent presentations a student asked me to clarify suggestions by the No campaign that would give the High Court more power than Parliament in the context of the Court having jurisdiction to determine issues surrounding the constitution - Which I thought was just a really good example of someone who had read through both arguments in the Australian Electoral Commission booklet, and had also critically reflected on what she knew about the legal system, and was worried about that but was also comfortable asking that question.
High-Schoolers have been really worried that the AEC doesn’t have the power to fact-check the Yes and no booklets, and that is a consistent theme throughout al lot the presentations that we do when we point that out to people. That is something they are pretty worried about given that every household received those pamphlets.'

Student Coordinators of the Naarm Law Students on Voice Project, Keshi (Banjima) and Maggie (Palawa). Student Coordinators of the Naarm Law Students on Voice Project, Keshi (Banjima) and Maggie (Palawa).