Statement by Philanthropy Australia on the Voice referendum

Wed, 5 Apr 2023

The Board of Philanthropy Australia released the following statement today:

Statement by Philanthropy Australia on the Voice referendum

As the national peak organisation for philanthropy, Philanthropy Australia holds the vision for a generous and inclusive Australia. We seek to achieve our purpose to inspire more and better philanthropy by convening, educating, informing and advocating for our members, as well as the wider community. In doing so, we are guided by our core values of Respect, Impact, Trust, Celebration, Humility and Sharing.

As set out in our core value of Respect, We acknowledge the special connection of First Nations’ Custodians to the lands and waters on which we work and pay our respects to First Nations Custodians and Elders past and present.

We coordinate a First Nations Funders Network to inspire more and better philanthropy for First Nations peoples. The Network is chaired by First Nations people and has more members than any other of our Peer networks. Our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) comprises an Executive Working Group with First Nations peoples from around Australia, including a Board member.

Philanthropy Australia’s Public Statement Policy provides for Philanthropy Australia to speak on matters of national policy significance, including a referendum, alongside speaking to matters directly affecting philanthropy.

A referendum to enshrine a Voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution will be put to the Australian people in 2023. We understand the large majority of First Nations people support the YES case.

After extensive deliberations, including discussions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of our RAP Executive Working Group, formal requests from members, and feedback from members to a national survey – where 80% of respondents indicated either PA should support the YES proposition or PA should make a statement as it considers appropriate – the Board of Philanthropy Australia makes the following statement:

  • We reaffirm our acceptance of the generous invitation extended by First Nations people in the Uluru Statement From The Heart to walk together in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.
  • We express our support for the YES case in the referendum.

We appreciate that not all Philanthropy Australia members support Philanthropy Australia making this statement. It will, of course, be individual Australians who vote in the referendum and we respect their right to vote as they see fit.

In the months leading up to the referendum vote, Philanthropy Australia will continue to convene, educate and inform its members. During this time, we encourage all members to reflect on our national circumstances; to understand how we got to where we are today with the circumstances facing First Nations Australians; to listen to what First Nations people are asking for, and offering; and then to decide whether to support the proposition as set out in the referendum.

More information on the referendum can be found on our website.

Thank you to all our members who completed our survey and provided your feedback.

5 April 2023