4 August 2023
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is committed to the principles of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including constitutional recognition and the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.
The College says a First Nations Voice to Parliament is a critical step towards genuine reconciliation and will lead to real health benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.
The RACP recognises the historical and ongoing trauma of colonisation and its impacts on the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of First Nations people. The legacy of colonisation continues to manifest in health inequities that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face today, including a lower life expectancy.
The right to self-determination is critical to addressing the disparities in health outcomes for First Nations people. A constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament will empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have greater agency over the decisions, laws and policies that affect their lives.
By actively involving First Nations voices in the decisions that impact their lives, we can work together to build trust and heal, improve access to culturally safe healthcare services, and support better health and wellbeing outcomes for First Nations people overall.
Dr Jacqueline Small, RACP President, says “The RACP’s support for the Voice reflects our long-standing commitment to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.
“The recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Constitution is a necessary step towards healing and generational change.
“We proudly support the principles of a Voice to Parliament and its implementation to make real change in the lives of First Nations people.”
Professor Ngiare Brown, Chair, RACP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Committee and Yuin Nation woman from the South Coast of NSW, says “For too long we have seen our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members suffer through a healthcare system that does not meet their needs.
“An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament aligns with principles that we know work in healthcare. Constitutional recognition is an important step in empowering our First Nations people whose voices have been historically silenced.
“There are significant gains made when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are empowered to resolve the issues that impact them deeply and directly.
“Constitutional protection for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contributions to national policy will ensure content expertise to inform improved life expectancy, better social, physical, emotional and mental health outcomes, and positive life trajectories. It is about healing, strengthening Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships, and greater agency for First Nations people over the decisions that impact their lives,” Professor Brown said.