CIM supports The Voice

October 12, 2023
Conscious Investment Management By Conscious Investment Management

This Saturday 14th October, we’ll be voting to set people, families and communities on new trajectories. It’s an opportunity to shape our nation’s future for generations to come.

Conscious Investment Management stands unequivocally with the YES campaign.

Our YES thesis is simple. A constitutionally enshrined Voice will ensure that First Nations people are represented in policy conversations that concern them. The overwhelming evidence is that policy decisions that make a difference are those set with a local and community voice. Better policy decisions benefit all Australians.

Read on for further information and why we will be voting YES.

What is the Voice?

A four-line amendment to the Constitution to establish a permanent advisory body that gives advice to the parliament and government on matters relating to First Nations peoples, for example, related to health, education and employment.

The goal of the advisory body is to support government to make better-informed decisions, drawing on the lived experience of First Nations peoples.

The parliament can choose to listen to recommendations put forward by the Voice, or not. The Voice will not have a ‘veto power’, as it is solely an advisory body.

What will the Voice do?

Give independent advice to the parliament and government.
Be accountable and transparent.
Work within existing organisations and traditional structures.
Stop or amend legislation.
Manage money or deliver services or programs.
A ‘step towards’ land transfers or other economic changes.

Why we’re voting YES

The vast majority of First Nations people support the Voice. While it is reported that there are mixed perceptions over the extent of First Nations support for the YES vote, the research concludes that over 80% of First Nations people support the Voice1. This is very high in the context of there being hundreds of unique Indigenous First Nations and hundreds of thousands of individuals who all have inherently valid and wide-ranging views.

To us, the data is simple – First Nations people represent less than 4% of the Australian population2 and over 80% of First Nations people support the YES vote. It is incumbent upon non-Indigenous Australians, like us, to elevate the voice of First Nations YES voters.

Nothing can actually go wrong. The Voice is quite simply, an advisory body. It will not be able to compel the government of the day to enact, retract, or amend policy – it will have no extra powers other than to give advice to government. It isn’t a first step towards transfers of land or a broader economic change to our society.

There are currently 110 advisory bodies that develop policies and provide advice to government on specific issues. The only difference between the Voice and existing advisory bodies is that it will form part of the constitution and therefore can’t be disbanded or abolished (like some previous similar bodies have been).

As a fund manager, a core part of what we do is assess risk in the decisions we make. All change involves risk, but in our view, the Voice is unequivocally directionally correct and the opportunity for a better Australia that the Voice presents far outweighs the known risks and outcomes of the status quo.

The status quo is not good enough. In the areas we invest, we see the social and economic burden of our country’s history weigh heavily on First Nations people. This is evident through relatively lower rates of education and employment, poor health and life expectancy outcomes, and overrepresentation in the social housing, child protection and justice systems.

Previous governments have made good faith attempts to create change for First Nations people, however have failed to turn the dial on creating long lasting, meaningful impact. In fact, in the latest Closing the Gap report3, some measures are trending backwards.

A No vote will leave things as they have always been: (1) First Nations people will continue to have laws and policies made for them by politicians and bureaucrats without genuine engagement or the voice of the community being heard; and (2) taxpayer funds will continue to fund an endless cycle of ‘new’ initiatives which don’t work and are cyclically defunded with changes in government.

Being led by people with lived experience is at the core of CIM’s ‘Impact Partner’ model. Our thesis is that designing solutions alongside the end beneficiary means that we make better investment decisions from both an impact and financial perspective.

We firmly believe that First Nations people know and understand the best way to deliver real and practical change in their communities. In line with our thesis, the Voice should help improve government decision making and therefore lead to better outcomes and a more efficient allocation of government funding.

It’s not a shift away from ‘democracy’. Some criticisms of the Voice have centred on the fact that it might ‘divide Australia,’ or give First Nations groups parliamentary representation that doesn’t accrue to other Australians. This simply isn’t true.

In our industry, we can engage government relations advisers (lobbyists) for a fee, as many other companies and individuals do for matters that concern them to elevate their individual perspectives. The Voice is, simply, a path for First Nations people to have their own voice elevated on matters that impact them.

Being on the right side of history. It’s been demonstrated that when motivated leaders and Elders support and drive programs they believe will make a difference, and provide the community support to deliver them, it is likely to work. This is the case in Australia, but also globally, with many similar advisory bodies being set up and successfully implemented around the world (for example, in Norway, Sweden and Finland).

In the coming years, there will be an even stronger trend towards the sorts of community consultation that the Voice entails. As was the case in other referenda – say the 1967 referendum on whether Aboriginal Australians would be counted in the census – as society evolves and our perspectives change over time, it would be a shame to have voted on the wrong side of history.

What you can do

Whichever side of the ledger your vote lands on Saturday, you will make history. Use the information available to you to make an informed decision.

Listen to what the overwhelming majority of First Nations people are saying, and think carefully about whether you are happy with the status quo and really think about whether there are any strong reasons to vote no.

Ask younger people how they are voting and why. The impacts of the referendum’s outcome will be long lasting and young people will inherit the legacy of our vote.

Spend the next few days talking to your friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues. Kitchen table conversation is what will make the difference, so take the opportunity to lean into hard conversations respectfully.

Move into the weekend, recognising the opportunity the Referendum gives us to shape history.


Learn more about the Voice to Parliament: and

View our Reconciliation Action Plan: