Australia voted No for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament. So what happens now?

Australia has officially decided. There will not be an Indigenous Voice to Parliament

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) Chief Elections Analyst, Antony Green, projected that the majority of voters in South Australia have voted No to the proposed constitutional change, along with a majority of voters in New South Wales and Tasmania. It means the proposal has not secured support from enough states to pass.

READ MORE: 'Few things worth doing are easy.' Anthony Albanese's speech to Australia following The Voice's defeat.

Announcing the No verdict, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese noted the Yes campaign had given it their all.

"When you do the hard things, when you aim high, sometimes you fall short. And tonight we acknowledge, understand and respect that we have," he said.

READ MORE: The result of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum is No.

But what happens now with a No result? The fear among some advocates is that little will be championed or done to improve the lives of Indigenous people. Nor will active steps be taken to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

It's a bitter pill to swallow for those who have been fiercely advocating for a Yes result.

Watch: Tony Armstrong on racism in Australia. Post continues below.

Video via The Project.

What happens now after this No referendum result?

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton - who advocated for a No vote - has assured Australians that despite voting not to have an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, he will push for something different. 

Following the result, Dutton said: "At all times in this debate, I have levelled my criticism at what I consider to have been a bad idea - to divide Australians based on their heritage or the time at which they came to our country. The Coalition, local Australians, wants to see Indigenous disadvantage addressed. We just disagree on the Voice being the solution."

He believes the Voice to Parliament would have interfered with the processes of government and done little to improve the lives of regional and remote Indigenous Australians.

Dutton has promised to hold a second referendum on constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians if the Coalition wins power at the next election.

The alternate proposal is the creation of local advisory groups in regional and remote areas, and having Indigenous Australians recognised in the constitution - but not via a national advisory body.


This would take another referendum, which Dutton has committed to doing if his party wins. 

For context, referendums are very expensive, including this latest Voice one. Dutton recently criticised the $450 million cost of this Voice to Parliament referendum, saying it would be "better spent building boarding houses" in remote communities. 

However, there are a few complications with the Coalition's proposal like with any referendum or push for change. One of the primary obstacles is when the Coalition will next win at a federal election, considering current polls suggest it will take some time before this party receives the votes necessary to win.

Secondly, as one expert noted recently - if a second referendum were to be held on the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the constitution, substantial support by Indigenous Australians would be essential for its success.

Considering 80 per cent of First Nations people backed the Voice to Parliament, it's unlikely the majority of this group would then turn around and support the symbolic rather than enshrined advisory group that Dutton has championed. 

For a lot of Indigenous Australians right now, this No result is a devastating outcome. For others though, they feel differently and voted No for a multitude of reasons. That's the nature of any large group - there will always be a diverse range of opinions. 


But one thing is for certain - the debate surrounding this topic and political mud-slinging from all sides of politics has been incredibly draining for those who this referendum directly impacts.

The cultural load on this group has been intense, referring to the mental load placed on First Nations people to provide knowledge, education and support to those around them on Indigenous issues.

Plus, according to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), there has been an increase in racism shown towards this group in the wake of the referendum. 

"It's uglier than ever than I've experienced, and I think many of us have," said Monica Barolits McCabe, an executive director at NACCHO. "All that trauma is not going to go away. It's still going to be there for quite some time."

As renowned lawyer and Dharug Aboriginal woman Karen Iles told Mamamia, a Yes vote for her was the only current opportunity for First Nations people to be given the respect and recognition they deserve.

"We had the opportunity to recognise, and show respect, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - our First people. Our constitution can only be strengthened by this show of respect for the oldest continuing living culture on the planet," she said.

"A No vote, or staying silent, means that we continue the status quo. A status quo where 'race relations' are underpinned by disrespect, silencing and decisions being made for not with and by First Nations people."


The questions remain - when will we get another opportunity to recognise Indigenous Australians in our constitution in this way? And what will be done next to try and close the gap? Because that gap is undisputedly stagnant, and it will take tangible action to address it.

Political commentators are also interested to see what the response to this No verdict will be like among international leaders and communities.

Former BBC correspondent Nick Bryant suggested that a No vote on the Voice would be an Australian equivalent of a Brexit or Trump moment, arguing that the result could determine international views of the country for years to come.

Veteran political commentator Michelle Grattan similarly suggested the No vote would be seen overseas "as Australians slapping the country's Indigenous people in the face".

But the fact of the matter is that Australians have had their say - with a resounding number across the nation deciding to vote No to the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, for a variety of reasons.

The hope now is that work will continue to be done to improve the lives of First Nations people - Voice or not.

The Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander crisis support line is 13YARN on 13 92 76.

Feature Image: AAP.