18 May 2021
Attention: Voice Secretariat
By email: Co-designVoice@niaa.gov.au
AUSTRALIAN RED CROSS SUBMISSION
We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process.
The Australian Red Cross is one of 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that, together with
the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies (IFRC), make up the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement - the
world’s largest and most experienced humanitarian network. In Australia, our 30,000 person-strong
workforce includes staff, members, and volunteers nationwide.
Australian Red Cross wholeheartedly supports the voices of First Nation peoples being heard and
respected as they determine their future, which are principles foundational to the Uluru Statement from
the Heart and the elements as it calls for - a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Australian
Constitution, a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement making, and a national
process of truth telling.
Australian Red Cross aspires to walk alongside First Nations peoples and to stand together with them in
their calls for systemic change. We do not purport to speak for First Nations people, but to add our
perspective as an Australian humanitarian organisation that exists to address the needs of the most
vulnerable. The Uluru Statement guides us, and all Australians, on the path forward as determined by
First Nations peoples themselves.
Australian Red Cross supports the redress of systemic discrimination and disadvantage that has affected
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for generations.
To achieve this, our 107-year experience tells us that it is critical to put affected communities at the
centre of their recoveries. Whether in the delivery of humanitarian aid overseas, responding to crises,
emergencies or natural disasters, Australian Red Cross’s experience has shown that optimal, sustainable
results are achieved when those made vulnerable by
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circumstances are empowered to lead their own recovery. This is why strength-based, localised, place-
based approaches are at the heart of our work.
Likewise, we believe that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders must be best placed to shape the
solutions that will help their communities to overcome the systemic disparities created by European
For genuine systemic change to occur, the National Voice must be permanent and irrevocable. And it
must be listened to and heard. For this reason, we note the calls for the National Voice to be enshrined
in the Constitution as nothing less is adequate to the task of redressing the harms caused by policies and
practices of the past. Further, this would guarantee the perpetual continuity of the Voice and protect it
from fluctuations in partisan policy while guaranteeing a firm foundation from which First Nations
peoples will advise the Commonwealth Parliament and shape decisions that impact them.
Like many other Australian organisations, we are also taking conscious and active steps to change. In
this process, we are indebted to Red Cross First Nations’ staff, members, volunteers, clients, partners,
Board Members, and our National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Team.
We are mindful of the weight of ongoing prejudice and discrimination inherent in many of the power
and authority structures and institutions throughout Australian society that persists and diminishes us
all. Maintaining the status quo is simply unacceptable. It is time for each and all of us to actively and
purposefully change for the better. Failure to do so will be harshly judged by future generations. We
have pledged to play our role in dismantling the system. It is long overdue.
Chief Executive Officer
AUSTRALIAN RED CROSS