WEHI statement on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament

WEHI supports a “yes” vote in the upcoming referendum on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. This is an important step towards First Peoples having a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives.

As a leading Australian medical research institute, WEHI acknowledges the failure of medical research systems to address the health inequities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We are committed to promoting equity and inclusion for all Australians, including First Nations communities.

We are also conscious of the need to accelerate concrete advancements in social, emotional, spiritual, cultural and economic outcomes that are long overdue for First Nations communities. This includes improved access to healthcare, education and employment opportunities – including STEM pathways – to ensure equity in health and social outcomes for all Australians. We have a responsibility to actively work towards reconciliation and support the self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the first scientists of this continent with deep connections to the land, sky, animals and plants. We are inspired by the ingenuity, resilience, design capability, and collaborative and creative thinking of First Nations peoples. This has enabled them to thrive for over 60,000 years and continues to ensure that the voices, designs and perspectives of the first scientists are passed on from generation to generation.

WEHI recognises the significance of the Voice as a step forward. However, we acknowledge that we do not hold the answers and we understand the importance of listening to, learning from and amplifying the voices of First Nations communities to contribute to positive change. We will prioritise building relationships and promoting respect and cultural safety with humility.

We acknowledge that there are differing views within First Nations and other Australian communities about the Voice, and we are committed to understanding and respecting these perspectives. WEHI is also taking the opportunity to raise awareness about this important issue among our staff, students and the broader WEHI community.

With our four WEHI campuses located in Victoria on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, we note that the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria supports all elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart – Voice, Treaty and Truth – and provides important leadership to advance all three in Victoria.

WEHI is dedicated to making a positive contribution towards reconciliation and we are committed to ongoing self-reflection, listening, learning and accountability.

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