Our position statement on the Voice to Parliament referendum

10 October 2023 | Expected time to read: 2 minutes

In Unity We Heal - Gilimbaa Artwork

Artwork: “In Unity We Heal.” by David Williams of Gilimbaa.

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation is one of the most trusted charities in Australia, the largest children’s charity in the country, and one of the largest children’s hospital foundations in the world.

Our mission is to harness the power of philanthropy to bring world-leading care to the frontline and future of children's health, with a focus on the services delivered by the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network.

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation says Yes to the generous invitation to all Australians in the Uluru Statement from the Heart to create a Voice to Parliament and recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution.

The Voice to Parliament will be an enduring mechanism for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to advise and inform governments on the policies, laws and services that affect them. The Australian Parliament will retain the power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers, and procedures.

We are saying Yes to the Voice and constitutional recognition because we believe every child - including any First Nations child in Australia today - should have access to the best possible healthcare, whenever and wherever they need it.

Regrettably, this has not always been the case for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia. Even more concerningly, we know first-hand through our partnership with the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network’s Aboriginal Health Unit that significant disparity continues to exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children in access to health services and in health outcomes.

We also know, from our experience in funding services for Aboriginal children and their families, that when Aboriginal people – as elders, clinicians, or patients – have a say in designing the services they receive, better outcomes are achieved. We have witnessed this transformative difference in programs we fund, like the Ngala Nanga Mai pARenT Group Program at Randwick, the Aboriginal Children’s Memorial Garden at Westmead, and the Aboriginal Public Health Trainees Initiative - Improving Healthcare for Our Mob.

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation is also acutely aware of the often-traumatic role hospitals, foundations, charities, and other institutions have played in Aboriginal children’s lives in the past. SCHF is committed to ensuring that healing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids takes on a holistic approach and addresses their mental, physical, emotional, cultural, and spiritual needs. To achieve this, we need to hear their experiences, and we need to listen to their voices.

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation is a Movement of Many that goes all in for kids’ health. We respect that, amongst the hundreds of thousands of donors and volunteers who support SCHF, there will be diverse views on the coming referendum.

SCHF will not be advising members of our Movement of Many how to vote. The Foundation is not constituted to be a campaigning organisation. What we can and will do is speak truthfully from our experience in working with Aboriginal health services and First Nations families and children. Our hope is that, by doing so, we enrich the discussion and consideration of this nationally important decision.

Find out more about our commitment to reconciliation.

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