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To Voice or not to Voice, that is the question

15 February 2023 at 4:32 pm
Danielle Kutchel
The Voice to Parliament is shaping up to be the defining political moment of the year, so what is the social and for-purpose sector doing about it?

Danielle Kutchel | 15 February 2023 at 4:32 pm


To Voice or not to Voice, that is the question
15 February 2023 at 4:32 pm

The Voice to Parliament is shaping up to be the defining political moment of the year, so what is the social and for-purpose sector doing about it?

As debate around the Indigenous Voice to Parliament ramps up in political circles, not for profits have been quietly cementing their own positions on the issue.

In the case of the Fred Hollows Foundation, the path was clear. CEO Ian Wishart told Pro Bono News the foundation had taken its lead from the venerable Fred Hollows himself, who he described as “a true ally to First Nations people”.

“As a not for profit working in more than 25 countries, we have a powerful chance to lead conversations on achieving equity in health outcomes. It’s not only appropriate, it goes back to our roots advocating for those who are needlessly blind and vision impaired,” Wishart said.

He added that Hollows “believed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander control, ownership and leadership of health services was vital to achieving equitable health outcomes” and advocated for this “as far back as the 1970s”.

“The foundation’s support of broader social justice reforms, such as the Uluru Statement from the Heart, ensures that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the right to a meaningful say on decisions that affect them. A constitutionally enshrined Voice is the only form of constitutional change that has wide and broad support from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Wishart said.

“Following in Fred’s legacy, the foundation has a responsibility as a non-Indigenous organisation to act as an ally and amplify and support the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, leaders and organisations calling for social justice reform. We are delighted that so many other social sector organisations and businesses are joining in the cause. 

“We believe it is our responsibility to be a strong voice for justice and reconciliation.”

Wishart also noted the foundation adhered to the ACNC’s guidelines on charity advocacy in its charitable health and social welfare work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Together Yes

Late last year, the Victorian Women’s Trust announced in an email to supporters that it would be running a campaign, called Together Yes, to support an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

“It is both thrilling and humbling to take up the invitation extended to us all in the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk together to secure a better future,” the organisation wrote.

Together Yes is based on the trust’s Kitchen Table Conversations model of small group discussions. These will be focused on relevant issues like colonisation, injustice, the role of First Nations people and culture in Australia’s identity and how the future could look.

Registrations are currently open for those interested in hosting a conversation.

See more: We have a Voice, we have Truth, now Treaty is very much within our reach 

“A Voice is vital”

Advocacy body SNAICC told Pro Bono News it is part of the Coalition of Peaks and is “working on new approaches and partnerships with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap”.

“This is important work, and it will be game-changing, if governments federally and at the jurisdictional and local level remain committed,” the organisation said in a statement.

It said in “a Voice is vital” to strengthening the work on Closing the Gap.

“It will mean governments cannot pick and choose which voices they choose to hear. And it will also mean that it’s not only the loudest voices who are heard,” the organisation said.

“It’s clear the status quo cannot continue.”

SNAICC also encouraged allies in the not-for-profit sector to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations on the path to a Voice to “build awareness and understanding”.

Support from SGS

Public support for the Voice is extending to outside the sector too.

SGS Economics and Planning recently announced its support for the Yes campaign. Speaking at the company’s annual company conference, CEO Alison Holloway said SGS sees “reconciliation as a fundamental and urgent responsibility”.

The organisation believes “informed and meaningful conversations and action are needed” as the nation approaches the referendum.

It has pledged to share resources with its audience to help drive understanding and conversation on the referendum process.


Do you plan to advocate for or against the Voice? We’d love to know what action you’re taking. Let us know at

Danielle Kutchel  |  @ProBonoNews

Danielle is a journalist specialising in disability and CALD issues, and social justice reporting. Reach her on or on Twitter @D_Kutchel.


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