In a rare show of unity, Australian sports federations have joined forces to show Parliament their support for the Indigenous Voice.
A coalition of more than 20 different Australian sports has signed an open letter to Australians emphasizing the values of “equality and fairness”.
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Rugby league legend Mal Meninga said on Friday: “It’s a celebration and a significant issue in Australian history.”
“If you know your history, this should have happened 100 years ago,” he said.
The letter, addressed to “sports fans of Australia”, reads: “Sport brings people together in a spirit of achievement, community and celebration…”
“Furthermore, sport plays an important role in Australia’s reconciliation.
“It has long been a means of including and celebrating the incredible achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This year, in a referendum on the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution, all Australians will have a say by introducing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vote. As a collective, we support recognition by one voice.
“We believe our nation can achieve this profound recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first peoples of our country in our Constitution.
“And we should do that by ensuring that Indigenous Australians have a meaningful say in shaping their own future.”
“We encourage all Australians who love sport to listen to this historic moment with an open heart and mind.”
THE OPEN LETTER
* As a collective, we support recognition by one vote
* Sport plays an important role in Australia’s reconciliation. It has long been a means of including and celebrating the incredible achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
* We encourage all Australians who love sport to follow this historic moment with an open heart and an open mind
* Together we share a vision for the future as a nation that values equality, fairness and the rights of the traditional keepers of our land – the land we sport, love and celebrate in Australia
WHAT SPORTING IDENTITIES SAY
* “Sport is a language that everyone understands. It brings us together and if we can use that to foster a better understanding of one another and that we actually gain strength from our differences, then that can only be a positive thing.” – Andrew Abdo, NRL General Manager
* “As an inclusive and diverse body, as a body representing two million participants across the country, and as a governing body representing a diverse and multicultural community, we must ensure that we are a values-led organization. That is why we have taken the position that we have.” – James Johnson, Managing Director of Football Australia
* “The Australian Constitution currently recognizes Queen Victoria, recognizes lighthouses and even recognizes coins, but is silent on the history and existence of this country’s first peoples.” – Tanya Hosch, AFL General Manager for Inclusion and Social Policy
* “We are Australians and are being asked to vote yes or no. So what’s wrong with having a voice? What’s wrong with having an opinion? Sport is such an important part of Australian society that I think politics and sport in particular should mix this time.” – Mal Meninga, Australian Rugby League head coach
* “Even though this may be a small step, it is a step we all want to be a part of. Sport has always been a balance for our people. It has always given us the opportunity to be the best we can be.” – George Rose, Managing Director of No Limits Boxing.
– With Cameron Noakes