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 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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            • I think this could be better handled Brissy and I can n understand that having things shoved down your throat does create resistance..

              Unfortunately a lot of people resist looking for different view points if they stick to the same information source. Maybe it is an attempt to encourage people to look at other role models and sources of information to make better informed decisions taking into account both sides of what they vote for 


            Tad, take a look at some of those figures in regards to what people spent their superannuation on during covid (a large percentage was on gambling). Taking out $10,000 now and they predict this will cost these people $120k in retirement. These are the people that will be crying poor in years to come. I hate being constantly bombarded with sports betting advertisments and I wish someone would do something to legislate against this, in my view it's just as bad if not worse than alcohol or tobacco.

            • Adam it is a very poor choice many have sacrificed their Super.I can understand if it was an absolutely necessary thing but to do it "because it is their money" is something full of regrets when they get to retirement.

              Ask anyone who is living off super today and a part pension they will tell it was the best thing that has happened to them to live a life where they have a lot more choices in how they live their lives in their senior years. To sacrifice Super for instant gratification is loaded with mental disappointments.I saw a program where teachers of primary school were teaching kids the benefits of making small sacrifices for the future. They did it by having kids plant seeds at school, water the plants as they grow, and reap the harvest on maturity. Unfortunately, kids have role models around them who teach them the opposite. Guess who wins this education of living  a beter life?

      • Not really , clubs are simply a representative on their members. They really aren't able to have a "view".  Nor should they.  Do they have a view on climate change ?  So they also must have a view on Stan's commentary of the Kings Coronation ?  Do they have a veiw on whether voting Liberal or Labor is the best ?  Do we just email them and ask them their views on the matters we would like their views on , how does it work ? 

        Clubs should not have views other than Rugby League matters. 

        • Tad and Adam, you have missed the point.....this not about gambling and alchol, this is about dividing the nation.

          If the yes vote wins say 55/45, does this unite us, If the no vote win 55/45 does this unite us....????

          The fact is we do not know what we are voting for and two we have a couple of wowsers come in take some of the sole pleasure some people have left away by constutution or tax is fundamentally not what a government, regardless of colour should even contemplate.

          There will be no winners in the context and already this site has been divided by this very discussion, with an interim overview that the Yes are heavily in the minority....say what your view, but keep at a level of intelligence not emotion.....Tad for you to bring up slaughtering of Jews and our traffic cop bringing superannuation into just puts people against your thinking before you even start an argument......

          Ask yourselves why this is happening and already the first nations people are divided themselves over it.

          If they can't get it right what is the point of this happening, no single citizen of this country has more rights than another, the less rules and regulations makes a proud nation prouder.

          The boycotting of the whole event is not an option for the referrendum...... it should be, get on with trying to get the justice system right within before giving right to one over another.....

          • The point I was trying to make Pops is that many views are highly resistant to having these sorts of views put up to try and bring people together on an initiative where indigenous groups have a huge involvement with the NRL .and the NRL has considered it an honorable thing to do to address the issues affecting these groups.. Many obviously are against this. My point is that people are not up in arms over the NRL  endorsing things like Alcohol, Gambling, and in the past tobacco industries which often are the addictive causes of many social issues causing grief to these people including children. Many people who have been very badly affected by these substances do not have a voice opposing these sponsorships. I would have thought that the NRL to put the Voice for Aboriginal People would be some sort of balance between both issues put on the table.

            Advertising is telling people to buy these substances and in some cases sponsored by the NRL --apparently, that is okay. However, having the NRL telling people to consider voting to address Aboriginal welfare issues is not okay. Last time I looked about 60 percent or so are in favour of a yes vote. Our history does acknowledge lots of terrible things have been done to Aboriginals throughout our history. Apparently, it is not okay to feel sadness for this when other countries accept how poorly Jews have been treated throughout their recent history. Maybe I need to go to one of those Chinese reeducation camps.

  • NO Body Will Be Telling Me How To Vote . So Nobody who ever they are will be saying they are representing on my behalf that they will be voting YES NO. Or INFORMAL 

    • Spot on Spud %100 

    • I agree, a club can say "We support this" but when you start telling people "you should do this because we do" that is where you start losing them.

      That is how Trump won in 2016, all these celebs with Clinton saying you should vote for her cause they do. Made the middle class revolt, as their money was as good as theirs so what's it matter to them.

      As figures, simply saying what you lean towards is fine, just do not say to us "You should do this too".

  • Before you listen to Mal Meninga on any matters of politics or constitutional reform, remember to re-watch his shortest political career in Australian history.

    Don't take advice from sports people about complicated legal matters.

    For me it's going to be a "Yes" vote as long as there's some clarity around the legal implementation, but everyone should educate themselves and make the decision for themselves. And before the NRL tries to take a moral stance or high ground on any issues they may want to take a look in the mirror...

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