Chris Croker’s message to philanthropists on the Voice
In this interview excerpt, Chris Croker speaks to Fiona Higgins on the Voice referendum and his advice to philanthropists when it comes to lending their support.
Chris is a Luritja man from Central Australia. He is an experienced senior executive and strategy advisor with expertise in Indigenous economic development, asset management, corporate strategy and infrastructure construction over a 25-year period. He has been the Managing Director of Impact IP since 2016, held positions with leading companies including state-owned electricity utility – Horizon Power, international strategy consulting firm – Boston Consulting Group and Australian mining and civil engineering contractor – Henry Walker Eltin. Chris holds an MBA from Melbourne Business School and a Bachelor of Engineering (Mining) from the University of Queensland. Chris is also a project steering committee member for the First Nations Clean Energy Network, chair of CASSE Australia and board member of Australians Community Foundation and Desert Knowledge Australia.
Chris, I understand that you were personally involved in the Uluru Dialogues from the outset, which resulted in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which in turn, called for Voice, Treaty and Truth. And we’re talking specifically about the Voice component of that today. But you’re not personally aligned to any particular campaign to the Yes or No campaign, and their activities right now. So, as a Luritja man, what will you be voting in the upcoming referendum? And why?
Proud to say, of course, as an Aboriginal person, I can’t say loudly enough that of course, I’ll be voting yes. It’s something that my family and my community have backed for a long time. And we say to ourselves, you know, this is the time, you know, this is the time to do it, you know, we’ve been requesting recognition for a long time. And so yeah, it’s time to stop talking about it. And, you know, just get it done. And, you know, this is something that I think we as Australian people, we can come together on and really, really embrace our shared future, you know, not as a divided nation, but actually, let’s come together and work towards the future together. So of course, I’ll be voting yes.
Do you think that private funders should involve themselves in this way? Or should prioritize it, perhaps now? And would you have any guidance on how best to channel support?
Yeah, definitely. Well, I would say, if there is a desire to support this movement, this is the year of the Voice, you know, it needs to happen this year, or it’s not going to happen. So don’t leave your support to next year. That support that we we’re largely all doing at the ground, to actually think about, well, how better can that work on the ground be achieved, if if we also help support some of the higher level political change as well?
We’re supporting one indigenous group – Indigenous Australians for Constitutional Recognition, which support Message Stick, and the Uluru dialogues, plus also making support available for on an ad hoc basis for on the ground organisations, whether they’re community groups, sporting groups, or faith based groups that actually just just need a bit of support to, you know, help have that discussion locally. So they’re already supporting action on the ground. And now let’s, now it’s time to support action a little bit higher up in that political realm as well.
So, yes, I would encourage all private donors and foundations to really think, do I already support Indigenous outcomes? And do I want them to be better? Most do in one way or the other. Some don’t, but I would say most do. And then if they already do, then well, how can my desire to do good locally, be better achieved if I also do good nationally as well?
At a systems level.
At a systems level, yeah. I don’t really want to reflect on the negatives, but you know, I think this is our time to come together. Hopefully we can build this better Australia, working close together, really embrace our joint heritage, and really move towards a really positive future.
Be the nation that we we want to be.
Definitely Yeah, I actually like that. So I might start saying that.