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“Clearing away the noise”: DCA’s 2023 Oration to tackle corporate role in Voice debate

Diversity Council Australia 4 mins read

This year’s Voice referendum represents a critical moment in Australian history and organisations have a significant role to play.

As Australians prepare to cast their votes, Diversity Council Australia will host an important discussion of the implications surrounding this monumental decision at our fifth annual Anna McPhee Memorial Oration.

This industry leading event will give Australian organisations all the information they need to educate and inform employees about this historic decision, and present a compelling, evidence-based case for why they should advocate for the Voice.

Sponsored by Cisco Australia, the 2023 Oration will be delivered by Kungarakan Elder, Professor Tom Calma AO, co-author of the Indigenous Voice Co-design Process Report and 2023 Senior Australian of the Year.

Professor Calma will address key concerns raised in the debate so far including how the Voice will work, how it will benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Australia more broadly and what the Voice’s defeat would mean for reconciliation.

"Over the past 65 years alone six major Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative bodies have existed, and the majority have been shut down or have had cause to be shut down by an incoming government,” Professor Calma said.    

“Report after report have recommended that government change their business plans and modus operandi to better meet the needs and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

“We need a Voice so that future Governments will make better policies and implement programs that will make a practical difference for First Nations people. This referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change our Constitution and place our Nation on a pathway to a better future."

Following the Oration, Professor Nareen Young, Associate Dean (Indigenous Leadership and Engagement) at UTS Business School will be joined by Ian Hamm, Chairperson, First Nations Foundation, Antoinette Braybrook AM, CEO Djirra and Julie Canepa, Director Digital Transformation CX APJC, Cisco to discuss the role Australian businesses play in the lead up to the referendum, including:

  • Why and how corporates should advocate for the Voice
  • Informing and educating staff on ESG matters
  • How to ensure Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander employees feel supported during the debate and,
  • How all of us can engage and persuade those who are unsure of whether to support the Voice.

DCA’s 2023 Anna McPhee Memorial Oration will take place on Wednesday 30 August 2023, 11:30am - 2.30pm at Zinc at Fed Square, Federation Square, Melbourne.

Quotes attributable to Professor Nareen Young, Associate Dean (Indigenous Leadership and Engagement) at UTS Business School:

“In 2023, Australian businesses take their social responsibilities very seriously and as consumers, we judge them on it.”

“Many have Reconciliation Action Plans that practically support their commitment to Indigenous Australia and their support for Indigenous recognition and the Voice is an extension of this that also says they have commitment to an even better future that has Indigenous Australia at its foundation.”

Quotes attributable to Ian Hamm, Chairperson, First Nations Foundation:

“The importance of ensuring that ordinary people are informed and understanding what this referendum is about is critical to the decision each voter will make.”

“Clearing away all the clouding and noise, both Yes and No, is essential if we are to make a decision that has decades long consequence.”  

Quotes attributable to Antoinette Braybrook AM, CEO Djirra:

“As Aboriginal people, and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, we are always carrying the heavy load. We take our responsibility seriously when it comes to ensuring that the people in our lives understand what this Referendum means.

“The same responsibility sits with the corporates. This sector must also carry some of the load by ensuring the individuals in their circles have the relevant information in order to make an informed decision when they cast their vote in this Referendum.”

Quotes attributable to Lisa Annese, CEO, Diversity Council Australia:

“We are proud to announce that this year’s Anna McPhee Memorial Oration will be delivered by one of Australia’s most respected human rights and social justice campaigners, Professor Tom Calma AO, who co-authored the Indigenous Voice Co-design Process Report.

“Professor Calma will give a strong, evidence-based case for why Australia should vote YES for a Voice to Parliament and address some of the myths and misinformation surrounding this important decision.”

“The Voice to Parliament referendum represents a pivotal moment in Australian history, and workplaces have an important role to play.”

“Australian organisations have a responsibility to inform and educate their employees about this important decision, and publicly show their support for the Voice.” 

“Genuine inclusion must begin with reconciliation. There can be no genuine workplace inclusion while our First Nations Peoples are excluded from opportunities, and we as a nation do not address race relations, equality and equity, unity, institutional integrity, and historical acceptance by including First Nations People in the Constitution.”

Media contact:

Diversity Council Australia: Ali Coulton | media@dca.org.au

About the Anna McPhee Memorial Oration: DCA’s annual Oration has been named in honour of the late Anna McPhee, DCA’s former Chair. Anna was an advocate on business issues across industry and politics but was also known for her advocacy on diversity and equal opportunity. She was the Director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency from 2004 to 2008 and she created the Equal Pay Day campaign in Australia in 2008.  She was also Chair of DCA’s Board between 2010 and 2015 and continued as a Director until 2016.

About DCA: Diversity Council Australia is the independent not-for-profit peak body leading diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We provide unique research, inspiring events and programs, curated resources and expert advice across all diversity dimensions to a community of over 1,200 member organisations. Our member organisations are estimated to employ nearly two million Australians, representing up to 20% of the workforce.

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