(Bloomberg) -- Support among Australians for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament to be included in the constitution recorded a rare rise, an opinion poll showed, as early voting begins in the country’s first referendum in 24 years.
An Essential Media survey released Tuesday found increased backing for an Indigenous advisory body to Parliament, or the Voice, with the “Yes” side climbing to 43% from 41% and those opposed sliding to 49% from 51%. It was the first gain for “Yes” after months of worsening figures. All major surveys show the “No” side leading.
Australians will vote Oct. 14 on whether to write the advisory body into its constitution, which would ensure it couldn’t be scrapped in a change of government. If the referendum is successful, the Voice would advise the government on issues which affect Indigenous Australians.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who initiated the referendum, said the poll is a positive sign, adding that the vote is “certainly winnable.”
Early balloting has already begun, including in remote Indigenous communities, with less than two weeks until referendum day.
The Voice to Parliament was initially proposed following a gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders in 2017, and Albanese picked up the suggestion ahead of his election win in May 2022.
“This is the right thing to do,” Albanese told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Tuesday. “This is consistent with the Australian principle of a fair go.”
Indigenous Australians have some of the worst economic and health outcomes in the country, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders more likely to be imprisoned, earn lower wages and die earlier.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.