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Enacting the intent of the Uluru Statement from the Heart within corporate Australia

Since the Uluru Statement from the Heart was gifted to the Australian people, I have been advocating, participating in advisory committees and working with companies to broadly socialise my thinking on how the intent of the Statement can (and should) be enacted by corporate Australia - irrespective of the political climate – to achieve Institutional Integrity, Equality, Equity and Historical Acceptance, which leads to improved Race Relations and ultimately – Unity (the 5 dimensions to realise a reconciled nation).

The initial reaction I have most received by corporate leaders is – we will overload our people with “one more thing” however, when I have explained the simplicity of it, it has added value not just to social responsibility and reconciliation agendas, but to operating performance and business risk processes.

So, post referendum, with many clients now asking the same question – where to from here? I have now mapped the relationship and interconnectedness of the Uluru Statement, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Australia’s Reconciliation Framework to broaden the message, in the hope Australia doesn’t lose momentum on our reconciliation pathway.

Uluru Statement from the Heart has the largest consensus of support from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than any other policy, program, or movement in regard to our rights and interests.

In addition, the 5 dimensions of reconciliation are based on decades of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, design and it is critical these two frameworks remain the north star for a reconciled Australia.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is the instrument that contains the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples all over the world and "provides a blueprint for Indigenous peoples and governments (and industry) around the world, based on the principles of self-determination and participation, to respect the rights and roles of Indigenous peoples within society" (Mick Gooda, former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner).

So much has been achieved and with the No vote being used to misrepresent Australia’s appetite for a more equitable and just Australia for its First Peoples – the time to act, is now.

I have worked with some of Australia’s largest companies to undertake a gap analysis of their institutional integrity using, in part, the Voice principles – and working in partnership with their business, co-designed effective fit for purpose solutions to address these gaps.

I have also now partnered with Indigenous Businesswoman of the Year 2023, Mundanara Bayles to co-facilitate in Board rooms our shared vision to increase Executive Leaders’ understanding about how you can enact the intent of the Uluru Statement from the Heart within your company, to achieve the 5 dimensions of reconciliation within your sphere of influence and support Australia to close the gap on the unacceptable, disproportionate disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, using rights based frameworks. This isn’t altruistic, it makes good business sense.

  • Voice improves decision-making, governance, operational performance, reduces cost and mitigates reputational damage.

  • It strengthens mechanisms to mitigate business risk inc. disproportionately or adversely impacting First Nations unique rights.

  • Employer of choice and social corporate responsibility are intrinsically linked & considering the volume of youth who voted Yes in the referendum, whether they are currently represented in your workforce or not – they will be. They are our country’s future leaders.

  • It improves brand and meets global expectations, which matters even if you don’t trade globally, noting we have Brisbane Olympics on Australia's doorstep in 9 short years.

  • Global expectations matter to corporate Australia, they are your clients, your supply chain, your specialised workforce, your trade.

  • It matters to your investors – evidenced through the global outrage in response to the destruction of Juukan Gorge, & the volume of subsequent support for Dhawura Ngilan Business and Investor Initiative.

Whilst most Australians voted No in Australia's recent landmark Voice Referendum, signally to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that we aren’t entitled to the right to a Voice enshrined in the country’s founding document, this is grossly out of step with the global community, and corporate Australia can signal to the world that First Nations peoples' rights matter.

Executive Leaders are in a unique place to enact the intent of the Statement and right this wrong.

After all, six million Australians Voted Yes and they are also your employees and need your leadership.

And.........simply, it’s the right thing to do.

Legacy and ethical leadership matters. What we do today – our children will inherit.

Ninti Kata - resetting the relationship post referendum and enacting the intent of USH_fin
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