During the annual PSI Oceania Sub-Regional Advisory Committee (OSRAC) from May 22-25, 2023, public sector unions from Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands expressed their support for an Indigenous Voice to the Parliament to be enshrined in Australia’s Constitution.
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Held in Auckland, New Zealand / Aotearoa, this year’s OSRAC highlighted indigenous worker rights as a key priority. In the meeting, Australian unions shared details of the current campaign for an indigenous voice to parliament which will be decided by a referendum later in 2023. The commitment to an indigenous voice to parliament is a product of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. In 2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates from all points of the southern sky gathered in Mutujulu in the shadows of Uluru and put their signatures to this historic statement. The statement calls for Voice, Treaty, and Truth.
CPSU Section Secretary Jo Kerr and an Aboriginal woman sharing what the 2023 referendum for a Voice to Parliament mean for all Australians
The OSRAC meeting was hosted by the New Zealand PSA or Public Service Association or Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi, which is the union’s full name that uses the Māori Indigenous language. The union is committed to honouring the treaty of Waitangi across the public sector. Within the union, the structures ensure that Māori perspective is heard in all levels of the organisation.
The treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand’s founding document and was signed between the Māori peoples and the English colonists in 1840. Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina is a leadership and governance structure that represents and promotes the interests of Māori members within the PSA. It provides a network to ensure Māori have a voice within the union and in the workplace. Listen to this podcast that PSI recorded on how Māori women workers are uniting to challenge colonial legacies and restore indigenous workers rights.
The OSRAC meeting also resolved to ensure that PSI continues to prioritise first nations solidarity through its program of action, explore further opportunities through the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169, as well as ensure indigenous workers are well represented in future meetings.
More information about the Australian unions campaign in support of an indigenous voice to parliament can be found here.