Australian Philanthropic Services supports Yes
Australian Philanthropic Services (APS) exists to support our clients in their philanthropic work to make the world a better place. We’re fortunate to work with over 700 clients who support many different charities and a wide range of issues. Our clients have diverse interests and life experiences and will have a range of views around the referendum. For all the differences, the commonality across all APS clients is their generosity of giving and the empathy that sits behind it.
The referendum on the Voice
Indigenous people fill two unique places in Australia. They are the first Australians tracing back 65,000 years. Australian First Nations communities are also one of the most disadvantaged groups in Australia. Rightly, it is a serious focus for philanthropists.
The first principle of all philanthropy is do no harm. Philanthropists continually ask ‘am I sure what I do is not going to make matters worse?’ The second principle is listen, to seek input from those with lived experience. This is an accepted practice in philanthropy; that input from those affected drives better outcomes.
For decades, Indigenous disadvantage has proved impossible to address successfully. However, there are bright spots that provide hope, and they are Indigenous led or have an Indigenous voice. APS, and our many clients who support these initiatives, can see the clear connection between Indigenous input and successful outcomes. There is a natural link between philanthropy and the Voice as a mechanism for relieving serious disadvantage.
"Viewed through the lens of philanthropy, the Voice is a positive step for First Nations people and for all Australians."
Judith Fiander, APS CEO
The Voice is not a political invention. It started with Indigenous groups in grassroot discussions, culminating in the creation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, six years ago. The process has been politicised, but that is not the APS lens. Viewed through the lens of philanthropy, the Voice is a positive step for First Nations people and for all Australians. It’s not a surprise that many philanthropists have listened and accepted the gracious invitation from First Nations people to walk with them towards a better future.
We are aware that our position might not be in alignment with all our clients. We respect all our clients and support their ongoing generosity to the causes they care about. We confirm our commitment to them and their philanthropy as well as to First Nations people and the country.
We will all vote as our heads and hearts dictate. We can respectfully agree or disagree with the proposition for the Voice. We should be mindful that for First Nations people the referendum is not politics, not academic, and not just an argument for Yes or No. It makes their lives, culture and place in the community a topic of debate over many months. That will be painful for some First Nations people – and that requires empathy from us all.