National Indigenous Australians Agency
Reply Paid 83380
CANBERRA ACT 2601
29 April 2021
Submission in response to the Indigenous Voice Co-design Interim Report delivered in October 2020 (Interim Report)
PwC Australia (PwC) is one of Australia’s leading professional services firms. PwC’s Indigenous Consulting (PIC) is a separate member firm in the PwC global network which maintains an Indigenous majority owned, managed and 60% staffed operation. Owners and Co-CEOs, Djap Wurrung-Gunditjmara woman, Jodie Sizer and Wiradjuri man, Gavin Brown, have a 51% share in PIC and PwC Australia owns the remaining 49%. PIC’s governance includes an independent Indigenous Chair and a majority Indigenous Board of Management.
Together, PwC and PIC have an Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) endorsed by Reconciliation Australia.
We fully support the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Accordingly, we promote the right of Aboriginal self-determination which is also reflected as one of PICs key values. This includes Article 18 “Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions” and Article 19 “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.”
As we committed to as part of our Elevate RAP, we support the Uluru Statement from the Heart. This includes “We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.” As such, we believe it is important that the Australian Government has a clear plan that works towards having the National Voice enshrined in the Constitution that is led and designed by Australia’s First Peoples - this is key to ensuring the establishment of an impactful and representative Indigenous Voice.
We commend the work of the many people who have contributed to this Interim Report and the work that preceded it. It is an important step forward in establishing an Indigenous Voice.
We support the Indigenous Voice being made up of two parts - Local & Regional Voices and a National Voice. We support all of the proposals for these two bodies, namely:
- A regional level governance structure that:
- is designed and led by communities
- provides advice to all levels of government about what is important in communities and in the region
- works in partnership with all governments to make plans on how to meet community aspirations and deliver on local priorities
- provides local views to the National Voice where this informs national issues.
- A national body made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that:
- can provide advice to the Australian Parliament and Government on relevant laws, policies and programs
- can engage early on with the Australian Parliament and Government in the development of relevant policies and laws.
Page 32 of the Interim Report sets out the Key Features of the National Voice design proposals. We support each of those key features and consider all of them to be relevant and important for the success of the National Voice. However, we reiterate our comment above that, in our view, it is important to work towards having the National Voice enshrined in the Constitution.
The Interim reports sets out a number of options for the National Voice that will impact its operating structure, membership and processes. The report also outlines further work to be undertaken throughout stage two to further design minimum expectations and further develop key elements of the proposals. We strongly support both the leadership and the ongoing engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as part of the assessment and decision making process in considering future options.
Local and Regional Voices
Page 68 and 69 of the Interim Report sets out the Key Features of the Local and Regional Voice design proposals. We support each of those key features and consider all of them to be relevant and important. In addition, on Page 73, there are 9 principles outlined to support the principles-based framework. These principles strongly align with the framework that both PwC and PIC adopt in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and we would strongly support them being embedded into the design.
One of the questions posed in the Discussion Paper supporting the Interim Report is around the number of Local and Regional Voices. We recognise that there are a large number of different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia and the Torres Strait Islands. As such, we support an approach which enables the broadest representation possible whilst still being effective. Under the proposal included in the Interim Report, this would be “a greater number of smaller regions”. We particularly support the proposal that there be no one set structure for a Local and Regional Voice and that a flexible principles-based framework would guide and support all Local and Regional Voices.
In accordance with Aboriginal self determination, we believe that for the successful establishment of local and regional voices, each structure must be resourced to meet the unique community needs and aspirations. In doing so, it is important to recognise and leverage the existence of established local decision making models, frameworks and practices. Core to our creation of PIC, and in its ongoing operation, is the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and wisdom as essential to the success of design and delivery of programs and to both advocacy, decision making and accountability structures. PIC has incorporated this practice through the delivery of over 1000 projects, across more than 700 communities in the past seven years.
In considering potential models, it must be noted that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups and service providers are diverse. Central to Aboriginal self determination is the promotion and recognition of the inherent cultural rights of Traditional Owners, and therefore ensuring consideration of Nation led approaches in decision making structures.
We again would like to thank all of the people who have contributed to the work that has gone into this Interim Report. The establishment of a Voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a national priority. We look forward to seeing and engaging in the outcomes of the next stage and, ultimately, in the opportunity to support a referendum that enshrines the Voice in the Australian constitution.
CEO PwC Australia
Co-CEO PwC Indigenous Consulting
Co-CEO PwC Indigenous Consulting