The Voice Referendum

How can I be better informed about the choice facing me?
How can I engage in respectful conversations with others as I discern how to vote?

How can I be better informed about the choice facing me?

To make an informed choice, it is imperative to gather all the relevant information. Jesuit priest, lawyer, and advocate for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Frank Brennan SJ, has two chapters in his latest book, An Indigenous Voice to Parliament – Considering a constitutional bridge, to aid the voter in making an informed decision to vote yes or no. These chapters include Indigenous voices, complemented by two retired High Court judges.

This excerpt of chapter seven, The ‘Yes’ Case and chapter eight, The ‘No’ Case are drawn directly from the book, with permission from the author and without any additions or alternations. For a more extensive review and understanding of The Voice Referendum, a copy of the book can be obtained via Kindle or at Garratt Publishing

Please note: these chapters were written before the availability of a government pamphlet .

How can I engage in respectful conversations with others as I discern how to vote?

Jesuit and Ignatian Spirituality Australia have a tool that may be helpful for you. We offer this Spiritual Conversation process to you as a way of engaging in respectful conversations about the Voice referendum.

Spiritual conversation is a way of listening deeply to one another, allowing all voices in a group to be heard, respecting all opinions and being open to where God is leading us. It was developed from the General Congregation of the Jesuits in 2016.

Spiritual conversation has been used widely in the Australian Plenary Council, in education, corporate and pastoral settings, and it is currently being used in the Synod on Synodality.

A Guide to Spiritual Conversation

With thanks to Ian Cribb SJ from Jesuit and Ignatian Spirituality Australia for this Spiritual Conversation Guide.

After gathering all the information available, praying with it personally and communally, a spiritual conversation unfolds as follows…

First Round of Conversation

Individual sharing on the fruits of my prayer and discernment. What were the main movements, modes/feeling/insights in my prayer time? Your group can give 5 minutes for quiet prayer before commencement of sharing. Begin with “in my prayer I…….”

Active listening

Profound welcome of the other.

How is the Holy Spirit speaking to me/us through the other person?

How are you affected by what is said?

Intentional speaking

Speak from your prayer (not from someone else’s, avoid story telling)

Share from your heart.

Practical matters

Speak one after the other (From the first speaker move clockwise around the circle)

Timed (2 or 3 minutes)

No comments or crosstalk (even in one’s own sharing). No discussion.

Second Round of Conversation

This is where the communal movements of spirits start to emerge. (Allow a few minutes of quiet reflection before beginning sharing.)

Reflective Sharing

How were you affected interiorly by what you heard in the first round? Begin with “I heard in the group…” or “I was moved by…” For example:

What did you hear in the first round?

Were you struck by a common theme or one comment?

Did you experience harmony/dissonance with the others as they shared?

What are you feeling now?

Practical matters

Be intentional in speaking.

Speak only once. No cross talk.

This is not a chance to say something you forgot to say in the first round.

Timed (2 or 3 minutes)

Third Round of Conversation

(Allow a few minutes of quiet reflection before beginning conversation.)

Open Discussion

  1. Name the spiritual movements recognised in the second round of conversation.
  2. Keep the same attentiveness and sincerity of the previous rounds.
  3. If there is a question to be considered or feedback to the larger group. This is when a communal response may be formulated.
  4. Popcorn Style

Conclude with a Glory be