On 14 October 2023, Australians will have the opportunity to make progress on Reconciliation. A referendum will ask the nation to vote on altering the Constitution. The change would recognise the First Peoples of Australia and establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

The Collaboration on Social Science and Immunisation (COSSI) is an Australia-based network of social science researchers, healthcare providers, consumer advocates and immunisation policy and practice professionals. COSSI connects a diverse group of experts/professionals who apply social science insights across a range of sectors as a means of improving vaccine acceptance and uptake.

Australia has a dedicated strategy to reduce the impact of vaccine-preventable diseases among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to ensure the best health outcomes for First Nations peoples. It is important that governments and healthcare professionals continue to work hard to demonstrate trustworthiness, support, collaboration and two-way learning. When First Nations COSSI members tell us that the Voice will help them in their work to ‘close the gap’ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes, we believe them, stand with them and add our voices to theirs.

From its inception, COSSI has worked alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander immunisation researchers and practitioners and been strengthened through their input to, and leadership of, our network. We have seen first-hand the benefits of strong, First Nations community-led prevention and control efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognise that all people who are impacted by government decisions and policies should have the opportunity to provide decision-makers with advice and expertise relating to those policies.

COSSI’s governance committee supports the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament, and we encourage our membership to make informed decisions as they vote in the referendum this year. We also encourage COSSI members to do what they can in their communities and networks to have meaningful conversations about the Voice.

The following Reconciliation Australia resource may be helpful: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/reconciliation/support-a-voice-to-parliament/

Download the statement here

Last updated September 2023