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Super fund urges Senate to embrace UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Giovanni Torre -

Superannuation firm HESTA has urged a Senate inquiry into the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to embrace the declaration's principles.

HESTA, an industry superannuation fund for workers in health and community service sectors, works with more than 90,000 employers and has more than 870,000 members.

HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey said on Tuesday that the fund took its obligation to advance the ambitions of reconciliation in Australia seriously.

The company argued in its submission to the Senate inquiry UNDRIP principles in Australia would lead to greater certainty for investors, better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and stronger returns for members.

Ms Blakey said Indigenous people were at greater risk of hardship in retirement.

"Our superannuation system was intended to benefit all Australians, however, the systemic disadvantage faced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during their working lives means that they also face increased financial insecurity in retirement," she said.

"There are many benefits to applying the UNDRIP principles in Australia.

"Not only will it help improve social and financial outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but we believe it can help improve financial outcomes for investors, resulting in stronger returns for our members."

In its submission to the Inquiry, HESTA outlined the risks and implications for investors when the rights of First Peoples were not upheld, referring to Rio Tinto's destruction of significant cultural heritage at Juukan Gorge.

Ms Blakey said application of the UNDRIP in legislation would send "appropriate signals" to corporations and investors who do not already publicly support the declaration's principles.

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