An Evening with Indigenous Lawyer, Eddie Synot on the Indigenous Voice Referendum

Soon we will be asked in a Referendum whether to alter the Australian Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by creating a body called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.  

To enable an informed choice, the Illawarra Centre for Enablement (ICfE) held a public community presentation and discussion evening with leading Indigenous lawyer and Uluru Dialogue member, Eddie Synot. Mr Synot presented & discussed what is a First Nations’ Voice and why it is needed, as well as objections raised. The evening included an audience Q&A as well as questions from youth members of the Centre’s Youth Council.  

The Illawarra Mercury’s Journalist, Connor Pearce covered the event in his article, Illawarra Young People Ask their Voice Questions to Constitutional Law Expert

“We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”  

The Uluru Statement From The Heart


Eddie Synot is a Wemba Wemba First Nations public lawyer and researcher. Eddie is a Lecturer at Griffith Law School, Griffith University and a Research Fellow at the Indigenous Law Centre (ILC) UNSW. Eddie has worked with the Uluru Dialogue and the ILC UNSW since 2018. Eddie’s research focuses on Indigenous peoples and the law, especially public and constitutional law.


Event Engagement

Youth Council Members Assisting: Tristan James, Julia Messore, Cooper Taber, Alvin Chung, Ben Healey

ICfE Team Assisting: Tina Mak, Matthew Healey, Aaron Healey (photos)

ICfE Ambassadors: Thank you to Naomi Gates, Michael Barbato and Rodney Von Clark for their support and assistance.

Thank you to the Fraternity Club’s Lisa McGregor for her constant support.

Moderator: ICfE Founder, Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey | Welcome by ICfE Youth Council

Event Details:

When: Thursday 14 September 2023  6.30pm for a 7pm start – 8.30pm

Where: The Fraternity Club, 11 Bourke Street, Fairy Meadow. Upstairs Auditorium.

This event is unfunded and is being done in a voluntary capacity. To cover hire expenses, a fee is being charged. All net proceeds from this event are being donated to the Uluru Dialogue.*

Cost: The fee includes Tea/Coffee. 

$15 plus a small booking fee – General Registration

$8 plus a small booking fee – Youth & Concession Registration (for youth 18-25 years of age. Concession is for anyone needing a discount).

Free for High School Students 17 and 18 years of age. If under 17 you must be accompanied by an adult. The adult must register for one of the above tickets.

Cash only tickets available on the night

*Uluru Dialogue is a group of First Nations and non-Indigenous community leaders, law scholars and advocates based at the UNSW Indigenous Law Centre, that run education programs and projects to advance the work of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Professor Megan Davis is a co-chair for the Uluru Dialogue


The Illawarra Mercury’s Journalist, Connor Pearce covered the event in his article, Illawarra Young People Ask their Voice Questions to Constitutional Law Expert

Excerpts from the article:

“Drawn from their own queries and those of their circles, Ben Healey, Alvin Chung, Tristan James and Cooper Taber said a month out from the referendum date, many young people still didn’t know what the referendum was about or were swamped by misinformation.

Ben Healey: Why is it not a valid option to have the Voice established by legislation, and what are the benefits by having it enshrined in the constitution?

Eddie Synot: Every other body that we’ve had since ’67, we had the National Aboriginal Conference under Whitlam and Fraser, the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee, the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Commission, the National Congress, the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, every single one of them have been ripped up, and all were established by legislation.

Whenever it becomes too difficult or too complicated, or they don’t like what we are saying, they rip it up.

There’s also power and authority that comes from the Voice being established as a constitutional institution. Backed by a double majority of Australian people gives that authority a mandate that politicians shouldn’t just be able to ignore, even though, technically they can.

Permanently being in our constitution doesn’t mean that it can’t change, that it can’t develop, but it will always be protected.

Alvin Chung: What are the immediate changes you see occurring if the country votes yes?

ES: For a lot of you, there won’t be any changes. You’re not going to lose your land, there won’t be any new takes, it’s not taking anything away from you, but I would hope that many of you would feel a new sense of self, of who are are and pride that as a mature nation, we’ve been able to address this long-standing issue and move forward.

It will take some time to develop the practical implications, including the design of the voice, but I think whether the voice gets up or not, and I do believe it will, we’re already starting to see the change from this conversation.

I think Australians are ready for change, especially your generation, and that change is coming.

Tristan James: The No campaign is saying this Voice may take away from non-Indigenous people. What do you see the impacts, if any, that it would take away from non-Indigenous people?

ES: Nothing, absolutely nothing. Some people might argue that our ability to have a say on legislation that all Australians don’t have the ability to have a say on and that is something that we’ve taken away is nonsense. The only things we’re going to be talking about are the ones that have an impact on us.

If anything, there are overwhelming positives to this, including driving accountability and transparency in the way that government operates. The Voice will be something good for all Australians because when [the government] is put on notice for their decision making when it comes to Indigenous Affairs, they’re going to be put on notice about other police areas as well.

Cooper Taber: What happens to the Uluru Statement if the country votes no?

ES: The Uluru Statement, regardless of the outcome, returns to Mutitujlu [where the Statement was made in 2017] where a new centre will be built. Sammy WIlson, who is the traditional custodian of Mutitjulu, his hope and dream is that when the Voice passes, it will be another point in the democratic triangle of Australian political history. Just like school kids go to Canberra to learn about democracy and see Parliament House, he hopes that in future school kids will travel to Mutitjulu to visit the art centre and see the Uluru Statement.

That will happen regardless of the outcome. As well, the issues are still there, our claims are still there, our lack of recognition remains. Saying no, at this point just kicks the can down the road for another generation to deal with this.

While it will be hard, the reality is we wake up the next day and the work continues for our people in our communities to drive that change.”

Ilawarra Mercury Article by Natalie Croxon

Excerpts from the article:

Mr Eddie Synot said:

“the Voice was an important mechanism to recognise the place of Indigenous people and give them the opportunity to have a say on the decisions that affected them.”

“Most importantly I hope people are able to leave informed enough to make a decision when it comes to vote in the referendum” 

“I think ‘if you don’t know, vote no’ is a very insidious form of ignorance pushed by certain people which is actually robbing people of their authority when it comes to voting in the referendum” 

Thanks to our Event Sponsor Pro Sound and Lighting Wollongong for the discounted fee.

Thanks to the following organisations and individuals who have promoted this event.

  • ABC Breakfast Illawarra
  • WaveFM
  • The Bugle
  • Destination Wollongong (Julie-Anne Francis)
  • Illawarra ITeC
  • Gypsy Jones Cafe
  • Illawarra Women’s Health Centre (Miranda Batchelor)
  • Wollongong Library
  • Wollongong Homeless Hub
  • Wollongong City Council
  • Tracey Kirk-Downey
  • Melissa Edwards
  • Illawarra Mercury (Journalist Natalie Croxon & Connor Pearce)
  • Mission Australia (June Lowe)
  • Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation (Richard Davis)
  • Rhodora Dizon
  • Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Greed
  • Kiama Shoalhaven Street Preschool
  • Facebook Community forums in the Illawarra