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More than 100 social sector organisations launch alliance to call for Voice

Giovanni Torre -

National social sector organisations The Fred Hollows Foundation, Oxfam Australia, ACOSS and ANTAR will launch the Allies for Uluru Coalition in Melbourne Tuesday to support a 'Yes' vote in the referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the constitution and establish a Voice to Parliament.

The Allies for Uluru Coalition, representing 144 organisations and thousands of individuals nationwide, extended an invitation to other organisations to join them in the alliance backing the Yes vote.

The launch of the alliance follows the formal launch of the First-Nations-led Yes campaign in Adelaide last week. The Fred Hollows Foundation, Oxfam, ACOSS and ANTAR have been involved in campaign planning and say they will use Allies for Uluru as a means to "drive meaningful action and build a groundswell of public support" for the yes vote.

The Fred Hollows Foundation chief executive Ian Wishart said the right for people to have a meaningful say on decisions that affect them is a basic human right.

"The Fred Hollows Foundation stands with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to call for these rights, which can only be achieved through a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament," Mr Wishart said.

"Fred once said that Aboriginal people would not be healthy until they were running their own health services, and this is the essence of self-determination. He knew over three decades ago that giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a genuine say on issues that affect them is not just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do."

Oxfam chief executive Lyn Morgain noted the organisation's more than 50-year history working as an ally with First Nations communities.

"We are committed to self-determination, recognition of sovereignty and a democracy that is founded on Treaty and truth-telling. We walk proudly alongside our peers in the non-government sector and with First Nations communities on the journey toward reconciliation," she said.

"We support voting Yes in the upcoming referendum because First Peoples' voices must be heard on matters that affect them. It will also help us as a nation to take steps towards delivering a better future for the First Peoples of Australia."

Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) chief executive Cassandra Goldie said recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their connection to Country in the Constitution, along with enshrining a Voice to Parliament, is "long overdue and critical for Indigenous Australians to have self-determination and a greater say over their lives, alongside Treaty, and Truth".

"We will be proudly working to mobilise our members across Australia to vote 'yes' in the August referendum," she said.

Australians for Native Title And Reconciliation (ANTAR) national director Paul Wright said the upcoming vote is a "once in a generation opportunity to walk a better path for Australia".

"I want to be part of the generation that walked the talk and made Voice, Treaty and Truth a positive force for change across our country," he said.

"ANTAR stands with the many First Nations peoples and our fellow civil society partners in calling for the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart."

The Allies for Uluru Coalition supports the implementation of the Uluru Statement in full, a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice as well as the establishment of a Makarrata Commission to oversee national Treaty and truth-telling processes.

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