BHP and Rio Tinto have endorsed the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its objectives to enshrine a First Nations Voice in the Australian Constitution and establish a Makarrata Commission.

The mining giants released a joint public statement, pushing for an Indigenous voice in Federal Parliament.

“A First Nations Voice to Parliament is a meaningful step towards reconciliation. It would empower Indigenous Australians and it would make sure Indigenous people have a say on the legislation, policy and programs that shape Indigenous lives, families and communities,” BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie said.

“We will work with Australia’s leaders, and use our voice to support the call to give Indigenous Australia the constitutionally-enshrined voice it deserves.”

Rio Tinto Managing Director Australia, Joanne Farrell, said she was proud to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

“Enshrining the First Nations Voice in the Constitution is important to ensure continued participation in decisions about Indigenous rights and interests. We believe national conversations around constitutional reform must continue as a priority for our country,” she said.

“As the largest private sector employer of Indigenous people in Australia, we look forward to working with Indigenous communities, state and federal governments and the rest of Australia to take this next step towards reconciliation.”

Chair of the National Native Title Council (NNTC), Jamie Lowe, supported the stance of BHP and Rio Tinto, calling for a Constitutional Amendment to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

“Having the support of resource giants such as BHP and Rio Tinto demonstrates the respectful relationship that has grown between the extractive industry and the native title sector over the last decade,” Mr Lowe said.

He said the Uluru Statement, if adopted by the government, would create the next step for self- empowerment of the Indigenous community across Australia.

“For many years, Traditional Owners have had a seat at the negotiating table to reach agreements with industry and it is now time that we had a seat at the negotiating table with the broader Australian community,” he said.

“This can only be achieved if a First Nations Voice is enshrined in the Australian Constitution as outlined in the Uluru Statement.”

CEO of Jawun, Karyn Baylis, said she commended BHP and Rio Tinto for their call to action to listen and act on the request from Indigenous people to be recognised.

“We praise their stance in responding clearly and directly to what Andrew Mackenzie, CEO BHP, describes as an invitation and a gift. And we hope this leadership, from some of the world’s largest resource companies, will act as inspiration to others,” she said.

According to the latest Australian Reconciliation Barometer, 95 per cent of Australians believe “it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in matters that affect them” and 80 per cent believe it is important to “undertake formal truth telling processes”. Eighty-six per cent believe it is important to learn about past issues.

By Andrea Cantle