29/05/2019 - 14:20

Business sector backs Uluru Statement

29/05/2019 - 14:20

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Woodside Petroleum, Curtin University, Lendlease and Qantas are among a raft of prominent organisations to join the country’s big miners, major law firms and finance businesses in pledging support for the politically contentious Uluru statement.

The business sector believes the Uluru Statement is a unique opportunity for Australia to make a change. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira.

Woodside Petroleum, Curtin University, Lendlease and Qantas are among a raft of prominent organisations to join the country’s big miners, major law firms and finance businesses in pledging support for the politically contentious Uluru statement.

The 14 organisations pledging their support today each have an ‘Elevate’ Reconciliation Action Plan.

Only 24 organisations nationally have an Elevate RAP, signalling the highest level of support for the national reconciliation movement.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart, released in 2017, called for the establishment of a First Nations ‘voice’ in the Constitution and a commission on agreement-making and truth-telling.

It was drafted at the end of a three-day convention of 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates.

The recommendations were swiftly rejected by then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and have gained little political traction since, but have gained business sector backing.

The Business Council backed the statement last November while BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie used a speech in Perth in January to endorse the proposal.

Fellow miner Rio Tinto endorsed the Uluru Statement following Mr Mackenzie’s speech.

BHP and Rio were among the 14 organisations that used the occasion of National Reconciliation Week to pledge support today.

In a joint statement, the 14 organisations acknowledged the call for the establishment of a First Nations voice in the Constitution and for a referendum to amend the Constitution accordingly.

Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman said the 14 organisations shared a common passion for reconciliation.

“As Elevate RAP partners, we hold a responsibility to show national leadership and we are proud to give our collective voice of support to indigenous communities by responding to the Uluru Statement from the Heart,” he said.

“The Uluru Statement is a unique opportunity for Australia to make a change.

“We need to walk together with courage towards a reconciled Australia.”

Curtin University vice-chancellor Deborah Terry said the Uluru Statement was a critical step to formally embracing the nation’s shared history and achieving a better future for all Australians. 

Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques welcomed the extra support for the Uluru Statement and encouraged more discussion around its objectives.

Today’s joint statement follows similar statements by 18 major law firms and 21 finance sector businesses, including the four major accounting firms.

Reconciliation Australia, which coordinates Reconciliation Action Plans, welcomed the collective statement.

“RAP organisations understand the important role that the wider Australian community has to play in progressing national reconciliation,” chief executive Karen Mundine said.

“Our research shows that an overwhelming majority of Australians support the aspirations within the Uluru Statement from the Heart. A collective public statement from our Elevate RAP partners not only demonstrates their leadership and commitment to reconciliation, but also helps to build momentum towards genuine reconciliation.”

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