Up to 35 Indigenous advisory bodies would be established Australia-wide under a path to a long-awaited national voice empowered to advise federal parliament.
The local and regional advisory bodies designed and led by Indigenous communities would be up and running from July 2022 under the proposal accepted by the Morrison government.
It would also be obliged to consult a related 24-member national voice on proposed laws that overwhelmingly affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
"We heard in chorus - from our own people, along with non-Indigenous Australians - how much it would mean for Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples to have our voices heard," the final report on the Indigenous voice process says.
"The importance of what we propose cannot be understated."
The report was authored by prominent figures including Indigenous academic Marcia Langton and delivered to the federal government for consideration in July before its release on Friday.
It's the product of a two-year consultation process to establish an Indigenous voice.
The coalition opted against enshrining a voice in the constitution as called for by the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Instead, the proposal would establish local and regional advisory bodies based on cultural groupings, and spread across each state and territory as well as the Torres Strait Islands.
They would be formally recognised through legislation and work with all levels of government.
A related national voice established as an independent Commonwealth entity and able to table formal advice in parliament would be drawn from these bodies.
Proposed laws that overwhelmingly relate to Indigenous people would need to include a statement setting out how the voice was consulted.
But there would be no legal mechanism to challenge laws and legislation would not be invalidated should this not happen.
The national voice would include three members each for all states and territories bar Victoria, the ACT and Tasmania, which would have two.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the proposal would help ensure Indigenous community voices were heard.
This would help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in terms of life expectancy, quality, education and employment.
"This is about listening to local indigenous communities, and that's where the voice must start," Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney.
Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt said it was important to get the process right.
"For the Indigenous voice to work, it must have a strong foundation from the ground up," he said.
Labor's spokeswoman for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney criticised the proposal for having no resemblance to that recommended in the Uluru statement.
"There may be legislation ... there may not be. This doesn't provide the certainty that Uluru asked for," she told the ABC.
The opposition has pledged to establishing a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous voice if it wins power at the election due by May.
Australian Associated Press
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