First Nations Voice

NAVA recognises that the development of First Nations arts and culture must be autonomous and self-determining. 

One of NAVA’s current policy priorities as set out by its Strategic Plan 2018-20 is a commitment to self-determined approaches to First Nations best practice in contemporary arts, and join with other initiatives to support formation of a national First Nations arts body.

Right to Self-Determination

Australia's First Peoples

Aboriginal Flag

The right to self-determination is contained in article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and in article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It has particular application to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as Australia’s first peoples, as was recognised by law in the historic Mabo judgement.

The right of self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is in addition to the right which everyone has to freedom from discrimination (including under ICCPR articles 2.1 and 26) and which members of all ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities have to enjoy their own culture, as well as profess and practice their own religion.

Uluru Statement from the Heart

First Nations Voice to Parliament

Uluru Statement from the Heart

In May 2017, 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people gathered at Uluru to hold an historic First Nations Convention. Building on years of work and activism, the meeting was the culmination of a series of First Nations Regional Dialogues held across the country. All of these gatherings were designed and led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and organised by the Indigenous Steering Committee of the Referendum Council. 

Established by both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, the Referendum Council was appointed in 2015 and were charged with seeking out the views of First Nations people from across the country and reporting back.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart calls for establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution and establishment of a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations that includes truth-telling about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s history.

In October 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Attorney-General George Brandis and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion rejected the proposal saying, “the government does not believe such an addition to our national representative institutions is either desirable or capable of winning acceptance in a referendum”.

Constitutional Recognition


We support the statement

A Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander Peoples was formed in March 2018 to further consider matters regarding recognition of Australia’s Indigenous people.

The Committee released its interim report on 30 July 2018 and is due to present its final report on or before 29 November 2018.

The interim report centres on the proposal for a First Nations Voice, which arose from the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The report considers evidence in relation to the constitutionality, structure, function, and establishment of The Voice, and examines past and existing advisory bodies and new proposals that might inform the design of The Voice.

The report also considers other proposals for constitutional change and proposals for truth-telling and agreement making.

Fake Art Harms Culture

Inquiry into inauthentic Aboriginal ‘style’ art

Fake Art Harms Culture

Thanks to the Fake Art Harms Culture campaign led by Arts Law, the Indigenous Art Code and the Copyright Agency, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs held an inquiry into the growing presence of inauthentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 'style' art and craft products and merchandise for sale across Australia. NAVA submitted a response to the inquiry and appeared before the parliamentary inquiry in Sydney on Tuesday 6 March 2018.

NIACA Consultation

National Indigenous Arts and Cultural Authority


For decades, the idea of a National Indigenous Arts and Cultural Authority (NIACA) has emerged and re-emerged in recognition of the unique place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts as the world’s premier continuous cultural tradition. A NIACA would provide a much needed central peak body for the Indigenous arts and cultural sector, providing First Nations artists and cultural organisations with a national voice across all areas of practice.

A national consultation is currently open to inform the value, role, scope and form of a NIACA. Submissions are invited from all people and organisations with an interest in the Indigenous arts and cultural sector. 

Consultation forums are being held across the country until February 2019. Details are available here.

The deadline to contribute to the online survey or to submit a response to the discussion paper is 7 December 2018.

Responses may be submitted via the online form here, or by email to

Writing a submission

  • clearly address some or all of the questions in the discussion paper (you do not need to address each one)
  • make it relevant and highlight your own perspective
  • be concise, generally no longer than four to five pages
  • begin with a short introduction about yourself or the organisation you represent
  • emphasise the key points so that they are clear
  • only include information you would be happy to see published online (unless you request that your submission is kept private)