What is a referendum?

The Constitution

The Australian Constitution is the set of rules by which Australia is run. It is an important document as it overrides any other laws and cannot be changed by the Australian Parliament.

The Constitution took effect on 1 January 1901 and it contains eight chapters.

While the Constitution allows Parliament to create or change laws, the Constitution itself can only be changed through a referendum.

You can learn more about the Constitution on the website of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC)

What is a referendum?

A vote to change the Australian Constitution is called a referendum. Voters are asked to answer yes or no to the proposed change.

All eligible people must vote in a referendum. This means you must vote if you are an Australian citizen over 18 years of age. If you are eligible but don’t vote, you may receive a fine which you will have to pay.

To change the Australian Constitution means that the change will become law. For this to happen, the proposed change must be approved by a ‘double majority’ of voters.