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5 things you need to know about the 2023 referendum

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice referendum will be held on Saturday 14 October 2023.

For many voters this will be the first time they have voted in a referendum – the last one proposed establishing Australia as a republic in 1999.

Here’s 5 things you need to know before you vote on Saturday 14 October.

A referendum is a national vote on a question to change the Australian constitution

The 2023 referendum question is:

A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?

Read the constitutional amendment and find out more about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

You must write yes or no on the ballot paper

The proposed change to the constitution is written on the ballot paper. You need to write yes if you approve the proposed change or no if you do not approve the proposed change.

This is different to a normal election. To make sure your vote will be counted, make sure you write only yes or no clearly in the space provided.

All Australian citizens aged 18 and over must vote

It is compulsory by law for all eligible Australian citizens aged 18 years and older to enrol and vote in referendums and federal elections.

If you’re enrolled to vote in federal elections, you do not need to enrol again to vote in a referendum.

If you have recently turned 18 or have become an Australian citizen, you might need to enrol to vote for the first time. You can enrol to vote on the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) website. You can also pick up a printed form at an AEC office or download a form.

If you’ve recently moved, changed your name or any other personal details, you need to update your details on the electoral roll.

You can check if you are enrolled to vote and your enrolment details on the AEC website. The deadline to update or change your details on the electoral roll or enrol to vote in the referendum is 8pm, Monday 18 September.

To pass, a double majority must vote yes to approve the change

This means that to become law, the proposed alteration to the constitution must be approved by:

  • a national majority (more than 50% of voters) from all states and territories
  • a majority (more than 50%) of voters in at least 4 of the 6 states.

The votes of people living in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and any of Australia’s external territories count towards the national majority only.

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Voting options are similar to a federal election

On polling day, you can vote at any polling place in your state or territory from 8am to 6pm. Polling places are usually at local schools, churches and community halls, or public buildings. Check the AEC website for polling places.

If you’re eligible for early voting, you can vote at an early voting centre. Early voting is available in NSW from Tuesday 3 October.

Postal voting is available if you can’t vote in-person on polling day or during the early voting period. If you are blind or have low vision, you can cast your vote using the telephone voting service.

If you're travelling or living overseas during the referendum period, you may be able to vote at an overseas voting location or by post. Voting in a referendum is not compulsory for Australians overseas, but if you are unable to vote you need to submit an overseas notification form.

Accessibility information for polling places is available on the AEC website.

We encourage you to learn more about the Voice to Parliament and the Uluru Statement from the Heart before you vote.