Australia’s sporting codes have come together in a rare sign of unity, joining forces to show their support for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
A coalition of more than 20 different Australian sports have all signed an open letter to Australians, highlighting values of “equity and fairness”.
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Rugby league legend Mal Meninga said on Friday that “it’s a celebration and it’s a significant issue in Australian history”.
“If you know your history, this should have been done 100 years ago,” he said.
Addressed to “sports fans of Australia”, the letter says that “sport brings people together in the spirit of achievement, community and celebration …
“Moreover, sport plays a significant role in reconciling Australia.
“It has long been a means for the inclusion and celebration of the incredible achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“This year, all Australians will have their say in a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the constitution by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice. We, as a collective, support recognition through a 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 that we should do that by ensuring Indigenous Australians have a meaningful say in shaping their own future.
“We encourage all Australians who love sport to listen with an open heart and an open mind through this historic moment.”
THE OPEN LETTER
* We, as a collective, support recognition through a voice
* Sport plays a significant role in reconciling Australia. It has long been a means for the inclusion and celebration of the incredible achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
* We encourage all Australians who love sport to listen with an open heart and an open mind through this historic moment
* Together we share a vision for the future as a nation that values equality, fairness, and the rights of the traditional custodians of our land – the land on which we play, love and celebrate sport in Australia
WHAT SPORTING IDENTITIES SAID
* “Sport is a language that everyone understands. It brings us together and if we can use that to promote and foster a better way of understanding each other and understanding that, through our differences we actually gain strength, then that can only be a positive thing.” – Andrew Abdo, NRL chief executive
* “As an inclusive and diverse body, as a body that represents two million participants across the country, and as a governing body that represents a diverse and multicultural community, we need to make sure that we’re a values-led organisation. That’s why we’ve taken the position we have.” – James Johnson, Football Australia chief executive
* “The Australian Constitution at the moment recognises Queen Victoria recognises lighthouses even recognises coinage, but is silent on the history and existence of the first peoples of this country.” – Tanya Hosch, AFL general manager of inclusion and social policy
* “We’re Australians, and we’re going to be asked to vote yes or no. So what’s wrong with us having a voice? What’s wrong with us having an opinion? Sport plays such a significant place in Australian society that I think this time, in particular, politics and sport should mix.” – Mal Meninga, Australia rugby league head coach
* “While this may be a small step, it’s a step that we all want to be a part of. Sport has always been an equaliser for our people. It’s always given us the opportunity to be the best thing we can be.” – George Rose, No Limits Boxing chief executive.
– With Cameron Noakes
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