WWF-AUSTRALIA'S POSITION STATEMENT ON THE VOICE TO PARLIAMENT
Supporting the continued amplification and advocacy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander conservation voices must remain a focus both now and into the future.
WWF-Australia respects all views on constitutional recognition and the Voice. Through an extensive consultation process, WWF-Australia has listened to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, partners and Governors to confirm our position in support of the Voice to Parliament.
On the 14th of October, Australia held its referendum on enshrining constitutional recognition and establishing a permanent Voice to Parliament for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a necessary step towards a reconciled nation. The outcome was disappointing, but not discouraging.
WWF-Australia respects the outcome of the referendum. We will also continue to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, it is our pathway towards reconciliation and meaningful collaboration. And it’s critical for protecting our environment. Indigenous-led conservation works.
The Constitution of Australia does not currently reflect what WWF-Australia already acknowledges – that this nation was occupied before colonisation by people who have managed and protected Country for thousands of generations. The fact that this remains unchanged is disappointing, but it doesn’t mean the discussion of how to better include First Nations Voices is complete. We can journey towards a brighter future, together. Nature is depending on us to keep that focus, and shared hope. In particular, WWF-Australia hopes that Australia continues to work towards change and implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Australia must remain committed to doing better, to ensure First Peoples feel heard, especially when it comes to looking after Country. Change needs to happen at every level of government.
WWF-Australia values a diversity of voices and respects that everyone has personal views on constitutional recognition and the Voice. As the largest environmental non-government organisation in the world, we seek the best outcomes for the health of the planet, which affects the health of our people and economy.
Getting the best outcomes for the whole community means using our profile to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as ancient Knowledge Holders, to have a Voice where they can lead decisions about Country.
Our position is informed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is based on our organisation’s experience that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ voices strengthen Australia's environmental future and must be at the table – at the highest levels. It has also been guided through careful consultation and listening exercises with our WWF-Australia Indigenous staff members, governors and partners.
WWF-Australia has a strong track record of collaboration with Traditional Owners. Such projects have succeeded because of positive and lasting relationships which value the deep knowledge of caring for Country that has been passed on through thousands of generations. The organisation is built on ethical policies and a strategic framework that values social equity and local community input when co-designing WWF-Australia-supported projects. Our practices and people reflect those values in our everyday work.
WWF’s global purpose is to create a future in which humans live and prosper in harmony with nature. With caring for nature in Australia, home to the world’s oldest continuing cultures, our role is a supporting one. Community leadership and self-determination guide our joint projects to regenerate the environment and animal populations.
Traditional Knowledge is at the forefront of WWF-Australia’s effort to learn from and incorporate transformational methods, as they can enhance Western science. When these two worlds combine under Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, we see Country healing across Australia. The Voice will be a powerful way to progress the relationship between Traditional Knowledge Holders and Western science to secure a healthy future for the lands, waters, skies, and everything within.
WWF-Australia's position statement on the Voice
WWF-Australia recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of our nation and supports their voices at the decision-making table. The health of Australia’s environment depends on it.
Colonisation removed people from their lands, preventing cultural practices which kept biodiversity strong and harmonious. We continue our commitment to leveraging our position as a leading environmental organisation to be a platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices. WWF-Australia believes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice will lead to better outcomes for people and Country.
We support this opportunity for Australia’s First Peoples to lead decisions based on culture and law and to exercise self-determination and their rights to their lands.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue the Knowledge of the First Scientists. WWF-Australia is a collaborator, a contributor and a learner. The Voice has the potential to mark a bright new chapter in Australia’s relationship with First Peoples. It can be an opportunity to learn from the past to create and shape our future. A future where we continue to listen to, learn from, and support the practice of First Peoples’ Knowledge.
We look forward to a Voice that will represent the diverse peoples, cultures and areas of Country across Australia. The future of Country will have better leadership and decisions when a Voice can make representations for Traditional Owners, Indigenous rangers, Traditional Land Management practitioners and their communities, who we have been working with successfully for two decades.
As a non-Indigenous organisation, we are guided by Traditional Knowledge, which has existed for tens of thousands of years. We will continue to work with the structures under the Voice to regenerate the lands which have suffered the significant impacts of colonisation, including the climate change crisis.
Demonstrating our commitment
In our commitment to the Voice principles, we will continue our commitment to:
- Value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advice and promote leadership on matters relating to Country.
- Build relationships with people who practice Traditional Land Management and their communities to heal Country.
- Be informed by First Nations culture and community aspirations.
- Respect and integrate human rights into conservation programs and practices.
- Recognise the importance of conserving cultures.
- Include equity across cultures, genders and ages in decision-making.
- Be accountable and transparent in our relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.