Referendums and changing Australia’s constitution

The Australian people vote on proposed changes to the constitution at a referendum.



The power of the Australian people to make change to the constitution is given to them by Section 128, 'Mode of altering the Constitution': '… a proposed law is submitted to the electors [and] the vote shall be taken in such a manner as the Parliament prescribes'.

For a referendum to be successful and the alteration to the constitution to be passed, a double majority vote must be achieved, which is:

  • a majority of voters in a majority of states (at least four of the six states)
  • a national majority of voters (an overall YES vote of more than a 50 per cent).

If the double majority is achieved and the proposed alteration to the constitution is approved, ‘it shall be presented to the Governor-General for the Queen’s assent’ (Section 128).

The records in this classroom resource relate to the 1967 referendum and illustrate the process of a referendum from proposal to Royal Assent.

You can learn more about the history of the Australian Constitution on a virtual tour of our exhibition Voices / Dhuniai: Federation, democracy and the Constitution

Curriculum areas

  • Year 10 History
  • Year 11 History
  • Year 12 History
  • Year 6 History
  • Year 7 Civics and Citizenship


  • What is a referendum?
  • What are the various stages of the referendum process and what role does the Australian Parliament have in the process?
  • What role do the Australian people have in a referendum and what gives us this power?