Media Release

Workways to Support Voice to Parliament

Workways Australia, a not-for-profit employment and environmental services provider, has joined others in the business community in publicly declaring their support for the establishment of a First Nations voice enshrined in the constitution.


Chair of the Workways Australia Board of Management, Russell Needham explained that this is an opportunity for Australians to make a powerful statement. “As an organisation, we have made a commitment to take practical actions that progress reconciliation through the implementation of our Reconciliation Action Plan.


“We see the proposed change to the Constitution to support an Indigenous Voice to Parliament as core to a more reconciled nation so it would be incongruent for an organisation that has a reconciliation action plan not to support the ‘Voice’.


“This is an important opportunity for all Australians to demonstrate that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should have a say on matters that impact their communities.” Added Russell.


Workways provides employment support and environmental restoration services across Eastern Australia with offices in Victoria, ACT, New South Wales and Queensland. Four percent of its workforce are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, and the organisation works closely with Indigenous communities across regions including Cairns, Logan, Coffs Harbour, and East Gippsland. In Logan, an area with a high indigenous population, Workways employ a casual workforce of Elders to support both staff and participants.


“Given the nature of our work, we see first hand the impacts of disadvantage on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia. While the Voice to Parliament won’t solve these issues overnight, it is a useful step towards addressing inequality in our community.” Said Kieren Kearney, CEO of Workways Australia.


Workways has emphasised that it does not seek to influence the referendum vote of its staff, but instead sees its role as providing access to education so that staff can make an informed choice.


“In the lead-up to NAIDOC week each year, we provide staff with access to education sessions and guest speakers covering a range of topics that help us create a workplace culture that understands, values and respects the history, culture and contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


“This year the education presentations will include information on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament as well as resources that staff can access to learn more about the referendum and the proposed change to the Constitution.” Kieren advised.


“It is stated in the Workways Australia purpose that we exist to ‘…promote the relief of poverty and misfortune of individuals with significant social disadvantage’. Data from the Closing the Gap report shows that Indigenous Australians have lower life expectancy, poorer health outcomes and higher rates of incarceration than non-indigenous Australians.


“We support a change that allows our First Nations peoples to finally be acknowledged in the Constitution and empowered to create a more positive future that addresses these social inequities.” Said Russell.