MSF supports the First Nations Voice to Parliament

25 Sep 2023

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Australia wholeheartedly supports a First Nations Voice to Parliament, enshrined in the Constitution, as an important step towards improving recognition and representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  

We support the three elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart – a First Nations Voice to Parliament and a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making and truth-telling (Voice, Treaty, Truth).

For more than 50 years, MSF has provided emergency medical humanitarian aid globally, driven by the principles of independence, impartiality and neutrality, always underpinned by respect for medical ethics.

MSF teams work with Indigenous communities globally, recognising that their voices are often not heard, and their health needs not met.  At MSF’s highest levels of governance, we have committed to supporting Indigenous health and emphasised that the perspectives of communities must be understood, prioritised, and respected in any health intervention.

While MSF does not run programs in Australia, as a membership organisation we are a strong and diverse association of doctors, nurses and other professionals, many of us with rich experiences working in Indigenous health in Australia.  

We know that Indigenous people in Australia continue to face deep inequities across a range of health indicators. The evidence base shows that improving participation and autonomy, as supported through the Voice, are vital to improving health outcomes.

While we recognise that there is a diversity of opinions, the Voice to Parliament will provide First Nations Australians with a stronger say in the policies and laws that impact their lives, and we firmly believe this participation will make a positive difference for all Australians.

As an organisation based in Australia, with Indigenous staff and members, our support for the Voice is also about recognising the First Nations peoples of Australia, and about showing our respect and solidarity.

While MSF is known for speaking out, right now we are also listening. We have been listening to Indigenous voices as we learn about the Voice. And we are listening to this invitation from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as enshrined in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, to walk together for a better future.