Australia’s sport codes unite in support of Indigenous voice to parliament
In a rare show of unity, all of Australia’s major sport codes have come together in support of one significant cause.
May 26, 2023 - 12:29PM
A number of Aussie legends and sporting bodies have united to throw their support behind the Voice to Parliament
Australia’s sport codes have united in an extraordinary show of support for the Indigenous voice to parliament, advocating for a nation that “values equity and fairness”.
Twenty-one organisations, including all the major sports, have signed an open letter to Australians expressing support for the voice.
The letter was followed on Friday morning with a historic gathering of sporting royalty at separate events in Sydney and Melbourne.
The organisations involved included: the AFL, Cricket Australia, the NRL, Rugby Australia, Tennis Australia, Netball Australia, Football Australia, Motorsport Australia, the NBL, Golf Australia, the PGA of Australia, Australian Taekwondo, Badminton Australia, Baseball Australia, Boxing Australia, Deaf Sport Australia, No Limit Boxing, Sport Inclusion Australia, NRL Touch Football Australia, Triathlon Australia and Wheelchair Rugby League Australia.
Australians will vote on whether to alter the constitution to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice later this year.
Rugby league legend Mal Meninga on Friday voiced his passionate support for the campaign while speaking to news.com.au from the Sydney event.
“I feel privileged,” he said. “I think it’s a celebration and it’s a significant issue in Australian history.
“I can’t see anything wrong with it — listening to the voice of the First Nations people. Learning from them and learning from their past and taking action with them.
“This is not a case of doing this for them or on behalf of them. It’s about taking action with them and I think that’s generally how we operate in spot. You bring your team along with you. You act collectively to achieve success. I can see great benefit in it.
“If you know your history, this should have been done 100 years ago.”
The open letter is addressed to the “sports fans of Australia”, and stresses that sport “has always served as a unifying force for our diverse Australian society”.
“Regardless of where we come from or what we believe in, sport brings people together in the spirit of achievement, community and celebration,” it reads.
“Moreover, sport plays a significant role in reconciling Australia. It has long been a means for the inclusion and celebration of the incredible achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“This year, all Australians will have their say in a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the constitution by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice. We, as a collective, support recognition through a voice.
“We believe our nation can achieve this profound recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first peoples of our country, in our constitution. And that we should do that by ensuring Indigenous Australians have a meaningful say in shaping their own future.
“We commit to using our platforms to lead conversations that promote respect, trust and goodwill between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. We commit to improving education and understanding among the Australians who play, administer and watch our sports.
“We encourage all Australians who love sport to listen with an open heart and an open mind through this historic moment.”
The letter stresses that the organisations respect “everyone is entitled to reach their own decision, come the referendum”, but advocates for “a vision for the future as a nation that values equity, fairness and the rights of the traditional custodians of our land”.
A long list of prominent Australian sportspeople are fronting the campaign, including Meninga, cricketer Alyssa Healy, boxer Jamie Bittman, footballer Jade North, AFL star Eddie Betts, cricketer Jason Gillespie, netballer Cath Cox, basketballer Andrew Gaze, and multiple Olympians, such as baseballer David Hynes and taekwondo competitor Carmen Marton.
The 21-organisation teamup adds further strength to Australian sport’s support for the Indigenous voice, knitting together rival codes that have previously expressed their individual position on the matter.
News Corp journalist Jamie Pandaram, who attended the announcement held at North Sydney Oval, described the scene as “history”.
“This is an unprecedented coming together of major Australian sporting bodies to support the Indigenous Voice to parliament,” he posted on Twitter.
Cricket Australia was the most recent major sport to announce its support, with chairman Mike Baird issuing a statement on Monday afternoon.
“The Cricket Australia board is proud of cricket’s powerful and unique history with First Nations people, and in keeping with our continuing contribution to reconciliation, supports the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian constitution through the voice,” Mr Baird said.
“We encourage respectful and inclusive conversations across cricket to support our staff, players, volunteers and officials’ ongoing journey of education on First Nations histories and cultures and the proposal to formalise a lasting and appropriate voice for First Nations people through the referendum.”
The AFL and Rugby Australia made their position clear a week ago, with the AFL saying it was “privileged to have a long history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership”.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players have long made a stellar contribution on the footy field. Their off-field contributions are equally valued for the impact they have made on our game and our community,” it said.
“While we encourage everyone to seek the information they need to form their own views on the referendum, the AFL proudly supports the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian constitution.”
Rugby Australia stressed that the voice “is not about division, it’s about union”.
“If we’re ever going to achieve true union as a nation, we must take every opportunity we have to close the gap which still separates so many of us,” it said.
“Provision for an Indigenous voice to parliament in our constitution is long overdue. Let’s get it over the line.”
And earlier this month, the NRL released a statement saying “true change comes through listening, learning and taking action”, and encouraging “everyone in the rugby league community” to “get informed by the facts and use their voice so that we can move forward together”.
“First Nations communities have deep bonds with rugby league and are part of our fabric at all levels, from grassroots participants and fans to the Indigenous stars who light up the NRL and NRLW,” the league said.
Not sure it's just me, but how do these organisations manage to apparently speak on behalf of all their members, many of whom do not support the Voice? I think this is an absolute joke and sporting organisations should have ZERO input into political matters like this. It is woke BS to the extreme that they think they have a right to support a cause without consulting all their members and stake holders. I'd love for some sponsors who don't support the Voice to have the balls to threaten withdrawing funding and see how quickly these organisations do a 180.
Happily AGREE Brissy
Actually I agree Brissy. Is this a first that we agree ? This might be the start of some big
You two can finally peepee touch
Agreed mate. Needs to be a treaty as the Māori have. Actual indigenous are against it. Well at least all those in my family and those I know.
100%... bringing politics into sport and taking it a step further in trying to influence those who follow said sports to vote a certain way. The woke box tick / virtual signal has sadly become the norm these days... it's spread like a cancer through corporate business. Just piss off... the public will vote how they vote. End of the day, at least there is no voting 'group' power with any of them... doesn't matter what they say as a collective, everyone is an individual vote and can make up their own mind based on what they believe / feel / have learnt / think.
They aren't speaking on behalf of their members.
They are expressing a view.
Surely they are allowed to do that!
Not on behalf of the entire organisation, Elvis. What if you worked for a company with thousands of employees and they just came out and said they support a certain political opinion without even talking to you and the other employees about it and seeing what you think?
Brissy I respect your opinion mate. Could the same apply to NRL asking players if they support sponsorship from organisations that killed families with Gambling issues, Alcohol and Tobacco addictions.
Tad, I absolutely agree the things you listed are problems, but effectively they're society issues not political ones. I understand the Government makes money off them, but to be fair the NRL has well and truly moved on from tobacco sponsorship and there's many anti-gambling initiatives despite the abundant sponsorship dollars from it. Respectfully, in my opinion this is an entirely different kettle of fish to those sort of issues. This is a change to the Constitution and should be off limits to sporting organisations to be dictating what their views are on behalf of hundreds of thousands of the people participating in those sports. I find it appalling that these sporting bodies are taking this stand, it is unheard of alright, but it is wrong on many levels.