With National Reconciliation Week commencing on Wednesday, BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie announced the company’s support for Constitutional Recognition and the Recognise campaign.
Reflecting on historic step changes in formal recognition of the rights and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Mr Mackenzie said support for the Recognise movement was consistent with the values underpinning the relationships BHP Billiton seeks to have with Indigenous Australians.
“On this day in 1967, Australia’s most successful referendum was held. Over 90 per cent of the nation voted ‘yes’ to give the Federal Parliament the power to make laws in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to allow for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be included in the census,” Mr Mackenzie said.
“Today I am proud to announce BHP Billiton’s support for the Recognise campaign to build public understanding of the Constitutional Recognition issue.”
Recognise joint campaign director Tanya Hosch welcomed the announcement and said she hoped it inspired others from every sector of society to think about how they could also signal their strong support and leadership.
“We’re extremely pleased that BHP is putting its weight behind the intention of the campaign,” Ms Hosch said.
“For them to add their voice to this, we hope it will encourage others to step forward proudly and join with them.”
Mr Mackenzie said indigenous people were critical partners and stakeholders in many of BHP Billiton’s operations both within Australia and around the world.
“Many of our operations are located on or near traditional Indigenous lands and the long-term nature of our operations allows us to establish long lasting relationships with the Indigenous communities in which we operate and those neighbouring our operations,” Mr Mackenzie said.
“Our on-the-ground experience means we understand indigenous people often have profound and special connections to, and identification with, lands and waters which are tied to their physical, spiritual, cultural and economic wellbeing.
“Through our engagement with indigenous people, we seek to contribute to their sustainable long term economic empowerment, social development needs and cultural wellbeing.”