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‘Time for a First Nations Voice to Parliament,’ eye care leaders say

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The Fred Hollows Foundation, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), and Australia’s first Aboriginal ophthalmologist Associate Professor Kris Rallah-Baker have joined forces to call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution. 

The call supports From the Heart’s Week of Action to promote the Uluru statement “From the Heart” and advocate for a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Voice to Parliament. 

For Baker, supporting the First Nations is a necessary step to “truly decolonise and heal the scars that haunt our collective psyche.” 

“As a nation, Australia is far behind other former British colonies in addressing issues that remain as a consequence of the dispossession and occupation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, which began on 26th January 1788 and has not yet ended,” Baker said in a statement.  

The Fred Hollows Foundation also expressed its support for the call, saying the move would have been supported by their founder who “wasn’t just an ophthalmologist; [but was also] a social justice activist who demanded that we do better.” 

“Australia has seen a reckoning with racial injustice and it’s abundantly clear that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples still do not have ‘a fair go’. It’s time First Nations Peoples had their say when the parliament makes laws that affect them,” said The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Ian Wishart.  

“We are asking the Australian Government to honour their commitment to a referendum. A constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament is a fair, practical and unifying reform,” he said. 

The Uluru Statement was delivered in 2017, following an unprecedented National Constitutional Convention held by the First Nations Peoples. Held in 2017, the convention was held at the foot of Uluru and brought together over 250 leaders from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

The Week of Action is the first of many events over the next year designed to build and grow a movement of the Australian people in support of a referendum on a Voice to Parliament. 

 

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