The Fred Hollows Foundation has banded together with more than 140 organisations to launch the Allies for Uluru Coalition in collective support of a ‘yes’ vote in the upcoming referendum.
The Foundation, alongside national sector groups Oxfam Australia, ACOSS and ANTAR, launched the Coalition on February 28 to drive meaningful action and build a groundswell of public support for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament.
Speaking at the launch in Melbourne, CEO Ian Wishart said the Coalition represented 144 organisations from the health, justice, human rights, environment, youth and housing sectors that stand ready to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“We are grateful for all of you coming together to start this mobilisation and create this positive change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for Australia,” Mr Wishart said.
“The voice is a fair, practical and simple request from First Nations’ people to walk together.
“It is a once in a generation opportunity that we need to grasp with both hands."
Photo credit: Oxfam
The launch of the Coalition follows the First Nations-led ‘yes’ campaign which formally launched in Adelaide last week.
The Constitutional Referendum is expected to be held between October and December.
In 2022, The Foundation hosted two Activate for Uluru Forums where organisations heard from First Nations leadership on how to be true allies in supporting the Uluru Statement From the Heart.
Mr Wishart said Fred believed sight, good health and the right for people to have a meaningful say on decisions that affect them were basic human rights.
“Fred once said that Aboriginal people would not be healthy until they were running their own health services, and this is the essence of self-determination,” Mr Wishart said.
“He knew over 50 years ago that giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a genuine say on issues that affect them was not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.
“Fred worked alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders to deliver the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program in the 1970s. Without their leadership and say in how the program was delivered it would not have visited more than 465 communities and halved the rate of blindness for First Nations people.
“That is a simple and practical example of why giving our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a say in decisions which affect them has a better outcome. It’s why we know Fred would have supported the Yes campaign and would encourage everyone to do the same.”