Australian Retailers Association Backs First Nations Recognition

To mark National Reconciliation Week, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has released a Position Statement outlining its commitment to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The statement also affirms the ARA’s support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including the establishment of a First Nations Voice to Parliament, enshrined in the constitution.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said that retail has a profound influence on society and now has a unique opportunity to promote reconciliation and constitutional recognition of First Nation peoples.

“Retailers are Australia’s largest employers, largest buyers and largest sellers, supporting millions of Australians and communities right across the country,” said Mr Zahra.

“As a sector, we have an obligation and opportunity to use this scale to drive positive change for mutual benefit.

“We can do this by providing meaningful work opportunities for First Nations job seekers while also addressing the critical labour shortages impacting our sector. We can engage First Nations businesses and drive entrepreneurship, while diversifying our supply chains. And we can ensure that First Nations consumers see themselves reflected in the brands they shop with”.  

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 3.2% of Australia’s population. However, the most recent Closing the Gap Report confirms that First Nations communities continue to be significantly overrepresented in terms of adverse social and economic outcomes across a range of measures.

The position statement outlines the steps that the ARA will take to support reconciliation within its sphere of influence and defines the actions that it will be encouraging members to take.

“Whilst many organisations are supporting reconciliation, the reality is that fewer than a dozen members have a Reconciliation Action Plan in place. We can do better.

“We also have a positive role to play in helping members engage with their employees and customers ahead of the upcoming referendum. We are not going to tell anyone how to vote but we will lend our support to the cause of establishing a First Nations Voice to Parliament, which recent research shows has the support of the majority of First Nation’s people, through education and awareness.

“We recognize this as an important next step in implementing the Uluru Statement of the Heart and we are urging our sector to get informed, get involved and step up to the challenge so we can we forge a path towards reconciliation for the benefit of all Australians,” said Mr Zahra.  

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