2664

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Submission Number
2664
Participant
Responsible Investment Association Australasia
Submission date
Main Submission Automated Transcript

Submission in response to the Interim
Voice Co-Design Report
This submission in response to the Interim Voice Co-Design Report is made by the staff of the Responsible
Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA). RIAA acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands on which
our offices are located: the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation and the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. We
recognise their continuing connection to land, waters, species and culture. We acknowledge their ongoing
status as the First Peoples of Australia and pay our respects to their Ancestors and Elders past, present and
emerging.

Who we are
The Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) champions responsible investing and a sustainable
financial system in Australia and New Zealand. RIAA is dedicated to ensuring capital is aligned with achieving a
healthy society, environment and economy.

With over 350 members managing more than $9 trillion in assets globally, the Responsible Investment
Association Australasia (RIAA) is the largest and most active network of people and organisations engaged in
responsible, ethical and impact investing across Australia and New Zealand. Our membership includes super
funds, fund managers, banks, consultants, researchers, brokers, impact investors, property managers, trusts,
foundations, faith-based groups, financial advisers and individuals.

RIAA is also the Secretariat for the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative (ASFI), which is co-Chaired by RIAA’s
CEO. The ASFI Roadmap, launched in December 2020, is a collaborative effort bringing together more than 140
participants from over 80 organisations across Australia’s financial system, including financial institutions, civil
society, academia, regulators and government. The Roadmap is an industry-driven A plan for aligning
Australia’s financial system with a sustainable, resilient and prosperous future for all Australians.

RIAA has also established a First Nations Peoples’ Rights working group, in response to member demand and to
deliver to their needs. Reflecting our members’ sense of importance, it is one of RIAA’s most active member
working groups. It includes organisations from across our membership base, including many of Australia’s
leading finance organisations. Its three-fold purpose is to help:

1. Address and advance the rights of First Nations peoples and others subjected to systemic racism.
2. Elevate First Nations peoples’ participation and voices in investment and the Responsible Investment
community.
3. Increase access, scale and impact of First Nations peoples’ related investment activity.

+61 2 8228 8100
Suite 401, Level 4, 478 George Street info@responsibleinvestment.org
SYDNEY NSW 2000 AUSTRALIA www.responsibleinvestment.org ABN 988 248 315 60
Why RIAA’s members care about the Uluru Statement from the Heart and a
Voice to Parliament protected in the Australian Constitution
To prepare for a sustainable future, our members understand that capital needs to be re-orientated to where it
will be needed to support a thriving Australian society, a healthy environment and a strong and prosperous
economy. This means focusing on where capital is lent, what can be insured and where money is invested. The
key aim is to support and build value today while strengthening the economic, natural and social assets that
underpin our long-term prosperity. It means ensuring finance is mobilised and connected to a sustainable
future where all Australians can feel confident.

Australians need financial security, a resilient environment in which to live, and a system that is fair and
provides the opportunity for everyone to thrive and prosper. Our members recognise the important role that
the financial system can play in building this future. The financial system can be a force for good and prosperity
that serves everyone.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have cared for Country for thousands of years. However, the
process of colonisation resulted in denial of their human rights to life, self-determination, economic
development, territory, natural resources, governance, culture, language and family.

Human rights, such as self-determination, free prior and informed consent in matters affecting people, rights to
family, language and culture, are particularly important to Indigenous peoples and are specifically recognised
in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The rights of Indigenous peoples to self-
determination and free, prior and informed consent in relation to the control of territories and natural
resources, economic development and the practice of culture, are critical to achieving Indigenous peoples’
autonomy, economic prosperity, cultural integrity and well-being as First Peoples of Country.

The 2020 Closing the Gap Report highlighted that, while progress has been made in some areas, there are still
significant gaps in targets between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in relation to child mortality rates,
school attendance and education outcomes, participation in employment and life expectancy. The 2020 report
highlighted the importance of shared decision-making, working in genuine partnership with Indigenous
peoples, and the need for investment in Indigenous-led data to inform solutions to address the current
inequalities.

In light of the above, our members have expressed commitment to support meaningful engagement between
financial system participants and Indigenous peoples; support First Peoples self-determination; and improve
financial outcomes for First Peoples. This is firmly captured in the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative
Roadmap, which includes several recommendations to bring this commitment to life.

Additionally, many of RIAA members have pledged their support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its
call for the establishment of a First Nations voice in the constitution. See, for example, this open letter from the
finance sector, which includes many RIAA members.

Specifically, in response to the Interim Voice Co-Design Report, we note there are RIAA members, along with
other corporate leaders, that have made submissions to call for:
• The government to call a referendum once a model for the First Nations Voice has been settled;
• Enabling legislation for the First Nations Voice to be passed in the next term of Parliament after a
referendum has been held; and
• The membership model for the First Nations Voice to ensure First Nations people who are not
established leadership figures to be heard as well as those established leaders.

+61 2 8228 8100
Suite 401, Level 4, 478 George Street info@responsibleinvestment.org
SYDNEY NSW 2000 AUSTRALIA www.responsibleinvestment.org ABN 988 248 315 60
In summary, as the peak membership body for responsible investment and sustainable finance in Australia, we
highlight and reiterate that there is a widespread belief across the finance sector that First Nations Voice,
enshrined in the Constitution, is a critical element in creating a shared national identity that drives sustained
equality and equity of opportunity for all Australians.

Simon O’Connor
Chief Executive Officer
Responsible Investment Association Australasia

+61 2 8228 8100
Suite 401, Level 4, 478 George Street info@responsibleinvestment.org
SYDNEY NSW 2000 AUSTRALIA www.responsibleinvestment.org ABN 988 248 315 60