The Sámi Voice: Indigenous communities in government

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By Karla Grant
Ahead of Australia’s referendum on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament, which will mark the first time that Indigenous peoples in the country have a direct means to represent their views in government, The Big Issue Australia travel to Norway to see how a similar model shifted the cultural dial.
On 14 October, Australians will head to the polls to vote on the recognition of First Nations people in the Constitution. This move is not without precedent – the Sámi people in Norway have had their own Parliament for 34 years.
The Sámi are the Indigenous people of the Sápmi region, which stretches across northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. There are estimated to be around 80,000 to 100,000 Sámi people across this land.
Known as the Sámediggi, the Sámi Parliament was established by the Norwegian government through legislation in 1987 and officially began work in October 1989. There are 39 elected members from seven constituencies, who are voted in every four years by registered voters who have proven their Sámi heritage.
The parliament funds projects and gives the Sámi a voice in the matters affecting them.

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