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.

Samuel Clench
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.

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      • You made mention of myths in some of your previous posts LB, I doubt their has ever been a bigger myth than Mal Meninga in any sport where they have reached the height he has in Rugby League.

  • The more sporting bodies push the yes vote and ALBO pushes it down our necks every day , you can be certain that more people will vote NO . As soon as the welcome to my own country comes on television my mute button is activated, I can speak on behalf of all people I've spoken to about this campaign by socialist , if the yes vote gets through (which I doubt)us whites may have we'll pack up.

  • Im concerned that Indigenous people from all walks of life are coming out against the voice concept, and propose to vote No. That confuses me. 

    • Because they know that the inner city dwelling Indigenous don't have anything but money in their interests. I have a few Indigenous mates who are black as the ace of spades and have had equally as much opportunities as I have if not more (they've had assistance with study and access to loans I can't get ) , who will tell you there's no way on Earth they'll be voting yes. 

    • Perhaps blue eel if you listen to Senator Price it might clear up your confusion 

      • So Price is suggestting that if they go down this route of the voice it may stymie any chance of land retributions and compensations to iniginous peopes down the track.

        I note that some indigenous from outback areas are saying No , as they think its mainly for the city / suburb dwelling Indigenious to get richer and that those in outback areas will be worse off.

        Still confused on all the issues though.

        I dont want to see our country divided by race with different arms of the govt. Our Govt is voted in by everyone as is

    • I agree Blue Eel

      Just OK is better than perfect if perfect is unattainable, as it will always be in this case.

       

      • Hi Randy . Very happy to see you posting again . I remember I think unless I am confused ,  you describing your positive Covid  issues at home when we were in lockdown etc and last I remember you informed us that were travelling I think around Australia? . I hope you are all well mate.  Due to the long gap I was concerned that a crocodile in NT might have joined you for dinner lol .

        • Hi Driza, Yeah we were travelling until we came by an opportunity in regional Qld that is working out nicely, so we stayed....No crocodiles.

          My mate who had covid will never be OK....Total loss of taste, loss of hearing in 1 ear, lung scarring and brain fog. Everyone else fully recovered.

           

          • Shit bastard thing to happen to him sorry to bring up Randy . 

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