The Fred Hollows Foundation hosted a CEO Forum comprised of 30 NGOs & health leaders to support for a First Nations Voice to Parliament.  

A group of 30 businesses and civil society organisations led by The Fred Hollows Foundation has gathered to support the campaign for a First Nations Voice to Parliament along with Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney and Uluru Dialogue Co-Chairs Pat Anderson AO and Professor Megan Davis. 

The industry leaders met yesterday, Wednesday 16th November 2022 to provide a platform for clear commitments to a ‘yes’ vote in the upcoming Constitutional Referendum and agree to forming a ‘Coalition of Allies’ to support meaningful and collective action. 

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is the largest and most comprehensive consensus ever of First Nations Peoples on recognition in Australian history. 

The meeting of this many likeminded leaders reflects the importance of building a groundswell of public support for the Statement which calls for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission for the purpose of treaty and truth-telling. 

Minister for Indigenous Australian Linda Burney said this is an important chance for all Australians to make their voices heard. 

“History is calling, and we as a nation have an opportunity to decide how we will respond,” Ms Burney said. 

“A constitutional Voice is important because it means decisions are made about First Nations issues and policies that affect First Nations people. 

“[As a nation] we must be informed and be vocal. Write to your local MP, become a volunteer, make phone calls and have that discussion – convince people who need convincing.” 

The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Ian Wishart said the forum was a great start to a significant piece of Australia’s history.  

“After generations of silence, the tide is finally changing and now is the time for businesses and organisations to unite in solidarity and support the Uluru Statement from the Heart,” Mr Wishart said. 

“This is an opportunity for the Australian people to have a say in giving a voice back to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples – one of the oldest cultures in the world. 

“Fred Hollows once said the greatest challenges weren’t personal challenges, but structural ones. We must challenge systems, processes, and decision-making structures to prioritise and amplify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices. 

“Fred would be proud to know The Foundation and so many organisations are committed to being an ally to First Nations people and helping them be heard.” 

The Uluru Statement from the Heart was awarded the prestigious Sydney Peace Prize – Australia’s only international Award for significant work towards peace with justice. 

The event was facilitated by The Fred Hollows Foundation, moderated by the Sydney Peace Foundation, and hosted by law firm Gilbert + Tobin in Sydney’s CBD. Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, gave the keynote address.  

The Fred Hollows Foundation is the charity sponsor of the 2021 Sydney Peace Prize and has a long history, stemming from Fred himself, of advocating for social justice and working to close the gap in eye health.