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The Paul Ramsay Foundation on the referendum result

3 min read
The Paul Ramsay Foundation on the referendum result

The generous invitation from the Uluru Statement from the Heart was one that millions around the nation accepted with open arms on Saturday. That it was not enough to pass the Referendum was, and will continue to be, felt deeply by many.  

The Paul Ramsay Foundation (PRF), one of the original philanthropic funders of the Yes campaign, and a funder of numerous First Nations-led initiatives and organisations, today strengthened its commitment to listen to the voices of First Nations people and support communities to have a greater say in the issues and decisions that affect them. 

“Philanthropy’s support did not begin with the Referendum, nor will it end with it,” said PRF CEO Professor Kristy Muir.   

“Like so many of our First Nations friends, colleagues, and partners, we are extremely disappointed with the Referendum result, but this only strengthens our resolve.” 

According to Muir, Decades of social policy research overwhelmingly shows that when you give people a say in decisions that affect them, the outcomes are better. We will strengthen our work alongside First Nations partners and support their efforts to achieve better outcomes for families and communities and continue to advocate for evidence-based systemic change. 

“Important social change takes time, and often suffers setbacks. We are proud of our support for Yes23, and thank everyone who gave their time, energy, and support to the campaign. We will continue our strong support of First Nations-led work and we are here for the time that change takes.” 

PRF Board Chair, Michael Traill AM highlighted that when they look at First Nations programs that have made a real difference, they see one clear common denominator of local and community voice being right at the centre. The programs that work are fundamentally strengthened by and succeed in large part due to community support and engagement. 

“When local voices are ignored, we are on a fast track to failure. It is now more important than ever for policymakers to work with communities and to listen at the local level to make sure that we don’t go backwards from this result, but only redouble our efforts to close the gap and ensure all Australians have equal opportunity to thrive,” added Traill. 

Kuku Yalanji woman, PRF Board member and Managing Director of Inside Policy, Natalie Walker said, “Millions of Australians voted in support of a new approach which puts – at its heart – First Nations experience and local knowledge. We must remember this as communities, philanthropy, service providers, business and government continue to work together for better outcomes and a better future for our children.” 

Kamilaroi woman and PRF Chief First Nations Officer, Michelle Steele said, “Heartbreak and devastation don’t begin to capture the feeling that I and many of us are experiencing. For a moment in time, we could envision a better future for ourselves, our children, and future generations – a vision that now seems a little further from reach. But we will keep that vision, we will take the time to heal and from all the sadness and hurt we will rise strong again. 

“I am proud of the work we are doing at the Paul Ramsay Foundation and grateful for the early and ongoing support from the whole team, and I am proud to work alongside other philanthropic supporters who accepted our invitation to walk alongside us in genuine partnership.”  

At PRF, we believe that people and communities across Australia deserve to thrive. 

PRF’s vision is to break cycles of disadvantage so that everyone has access to opportunities, regardless of their circumstance or postcode. We seek to identify and partner with individuals, communities, and organisations, and work across sectors to collectively achieve this change. 


This statement was sent from the Paul Ramsay Foundation and published by Third Sector News.  

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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