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Passing the Message Stick

Voices for Impact project

Raised $261,350

Raised $261,350

Shifting the narrative and building support for self-determination and justice

Passing the Message Stick is a multi-year research project shifting public narrative in support of First Nations justice and self-determination. The foundational research has already been widely adopted by First Nations organisations, advocates, journalists and allies.

The upcoming Voice Referendum presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shift public narrative in support of transformative change for First Nations justice and self-determination. In order to win the Yes campaign this year, there needs to be significant investment not only in First Nations organising in communities, but also in equipping First Nations advocates and allies with effective messages.

As we approach the Referendum, Passing the Message Stick is prioritising research on two issues where there is momentum and opportunity for substantive change: transformative policy change, and law reform and justice. The project will see an extensive national rollout to share the research far and wide with First Nations advocates and allies, equipping communities with the tools and skills to apply effective messages to their campaigns.

This work will be done in partnership with a number of First Nations-led organisations, including Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Research and Education, and the Dhadjowa Foundation to support the law reform and justice messaging part of the project.


Your support will equip First Nations advocates with effective messaging in the lead-up to the Referendum, and lay the foundations for further policy change on truth-telling, treaties, health, education, housing, climate and protecting Country.




Project activities include:

  • Conduct and share the research with First Nations advocates and organisations, equipping them to have conversations in their communities and reframe the national narrative – including workshops and presentations for 1,000-2,000 First Nations advocates.
  • Train 50-100 First Nations media spokespeople and provide dedicated media pitching capacity to secure strength and solution-based news stories that shift mainstream narratives and discourse in favour of ambitious, transformational change.
  • Develop a train-the-trainer model for 5 First Nations Messaging Fellows, offering an opportunity to learn the messaging findings and advice in detail.
  • Share the research widely with a further 5,000+ advocates, journalists, and communicators across the social sector, to elevate stories of strength and mobilise support for Yes and broader change – through online and in-person presentations.
  • Build on the existing interactive website and resources, creating easy-to-use messaging guides and advice to share broadly with 20,000+ advocates, organisations and journalists.


Passing the Message Stick is underpinned by foundational support from Australian Progress and GetUp. Australian Progress exists to build the advocacy capacity of civil society, and has supported four sector-wide message research projects. GetUp is an independent movement of more than one million people working to build a progressive Australia and put people back into politics. The two organisations have collaborated on a number of First Nations advocacy capacity building projects including Passing the Message Stick, First Nations Campaigning and Organising Fellowship, and First Nations Messaging and Communications Fellowship.

The project will be conducted in partnership with a number of First Nations-led organisations. The Dhadjowa Foundation, another Impact Fund partner, will support the law reform and justice messaging part of the project. The Dhadjowa Foundation, founded by Apryl Day, daughter of Aunty Tanya Day, is a national grassroots organisation, established to provide strategic, coordinated and culturally appropriate support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families whose loved ones have died in custody.

This project is auspiced by the Foundation for Young Australians.

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Voices for Impact
Other partners

Yes Campaign


In the lead-up to the Referendum, Australians for Indigenous Constitutional Recognition is enabling all Australians to be a part of this historic opportunity through a national campaign: Yes 23.

Learn more

2023 First Nations Voice Campaign


The Uluru Dialogue is a group of First Nations leaders across Australia continuing to carry the cultural authority and the mandate of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Learn more

ACF Referendum Grants Pool


We’re launching the Referendum Grants Pool to support community groups and organisations all over the country mobilising around different aspects of the campaign.

Learn more

Contact us

Got a question or want to discuss how you can support Passing the Message Stick? Contact the team.