ACC backs Uluru Statement from the Heart in open letter to PM

ACC backs Uluru Statement from the Heart in open letter to PM

17 February 2021 By Emma Ryan
Tanya Khan

The Association of Corporate Counsel Australia (ACC Australia) has outlined its support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart in an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The legal body sent a letter to the PM earlier this month following a vote from the board to move forward in supporting the statement.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart calls on organisations to make a submission in support of real, fair and practical change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament

“ACC Australia is proud to support the ‘First Nations Voice’ effort, as Constitutional recognition of Australia’s Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples is long overdue,” said Tanya Khan, ACC Australia vice-president and managing director.

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“On behalf of thousands of in-house lawyers across Australia, we will continue to voice our support and take appropriate actions to help ensure that the requests in the Uluru Statement are adopted. I want to thank our leaders and members who have been instrumental in moving this initiative forward.

Lori Middlehurst, ACC Australia, NSW Division president, noted the Uluru Statement is a critical component in ensuring an appropriate way forward.

“The Uluru Statement is a call to enshrine the voice of Australia’s Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution,” she said.

“The First Nations Voice is critical to resolving their ongoing disempowerment, and to allow for fair treaties and treatment. The proposal is in line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and is simply the right thing to do. I thank ACC Australia for their support, and look forward to working with our members and organisations in this effort.” 

The ACC’s letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison is as follows:

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Dear Prime Minister,

The Uluru Statement from the Heart (Uluru Statement) was released on 26 May 2017 by delegates of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Referendum Convention, a convention process that was established with bipartisan support. The statement calls for a ‘First Nations Voice’ in the Constitution of Australia and a Makarrata Commission to supervise agreement-making and truth-telling between governments at all levels and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Strong support for the First Nations Voice has been given by Ken Wyatt, Minister for Indigenous Australians, Mr Phillip Ruddock, former Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Mr Julian Leeser MP and former Deputy Liberal leader, Mr Fred Chaney AO. The Association of Corporate Counsel – Australia (ACC), is an association of lawyers in the in-house departments of thousands of companies, State and Federal government departments and not for profit organisations across Australia.

The ACC Australia Board unanimously supports speaking in favour of the Uluru Statement and our ACC global leadership is also overwhelmingly supportive of this action.

Many of our member organisations are actively seeking ways to support Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander employees, customers and vendors as part of their business-critical sustainability activities and because it is simply the right thing to do. ACC is encouraging all of our members to support a referendum for the adoption of the requests in the Uluru Statement.

ACC respectfully suggests that the following process would achieve effective Constitutional recognition. Once a model is settled, then a referendum on the Voice should occur. Immediately following a “Yes” vote in the referendum, Parliament would then formalise the design and procedures of the First Nations’ Voice with enabling legislation.

The requests put forward by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in the Uluru Statement provide an opportunity for Australia to acknowledge our difficult history and move forward together in a genuine process of reconciliation. ACC further supports the requests put forth that the Voice allow for contribution and participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from diverse backgrounds, and not just the voices of established leadership figures.

This latter request will help ensure that the Voice is representative of the ever evolving needs of all our Indigenous peoples.

Growing support for the Uluru Statement’s three tenets of Voice, Treaty, Truth is building across Australian society, from business leaders to the constituents of your electorate. Both the Labor Party and the Australian Greens have already demonstrated support for a First Nations’ Voice to be enshrined in the Constitution. Many corporations and organisations in the private sector have also expressed their support.

2020 was a difficult year, 2021 will bring additional challenges. Discussions of how to best address those challenges will require input from all Australians, and so it is critical that Indigenous Australians are recognised and heard.

The time has come. We respectfully request that you support any motion brought to the Parliament that establishes a referendum on this issue. Thank you for considering this request and we await your reply on this matter.

Yours faithfully,
Tanya Khan
Vice President & Managing Director
Australia & Asia Pacific

ACC backs Uluru Statement from the Heart in open letter to PM
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