More than 20 of Australia’s biggest sporting bodies have joined together to support the Voice to Parliament.
After weeks of announcements from the various organisations declaring their support for the Voice, league CEOs and former greats appeared in presentations in Sydney and Melbourne to make a united declaration.
The event’s main purpose was to reveal an open letter to ‘Australian sports fans’, and includes as co-signees officials from the AFL, NRL, Cricket Australia, Rugby Australia, and representatives from golf, football, basketball, tennis and netball, even reaching as far as taekwondo and Deaf Sport Australia.
Also in attendance were a host of legends of Australian sport, including Indigenous icons Eddie Betts (AFL) and Jason Gillespie (cricket), and current Australian national rugby league head coach Mal Meninga and basketball great Andrew Gaze.
“I feel privileged,” Meninga said on Friday of his role in the open letter.
“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 letter reads:
Dear Sports Fans of Australia,
We, the representatives of leading sport organisations in Australia, come together to make this statement to all Australians who love their sport:
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.
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.
We respect that everyone is entitled to reach their own decision come the referendum.
Together we share a vision for the future as a nation that values equity, fairness and the rights of the Traditional Custodians of our land.
The land on which we play, love and celebrate sport in Australia.”