Social Responsibility

Pharma and medtech companies voice commitment to NAIDOC Week

Health Industry Hub | July 4, 2022 |
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NAIDOC week is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and demand change in the systems that continue to oppress them. This year, NAIDOC week celebrations are held from 3 – 10 July.

According to NAIDOC’s co-chair Shannon Dodson, NAIDOC week started as a protest to Australia Day (Invasion Day). It started off as a day of mourning at first then turned into a day of celebration and then became a week.

While last year’s theme was Heal Country, this year’s theme is Get Up! Stand up! Show up! to help fight for active reform rather than empty words.

Several pharma and medtech companies, including Sanofi, Baxter, Pfizer, Abbott and Roche, shared their commitment to NAIDOC Week and First Nations People with Health Industry Hub.

Karen Hood, Country Lead Sanofi Australia & New Zealand, said “Our reconciliation journey is about building stronger connections with Australia’s First Nations People and working in partnership to create a more fair, equal and just society.

“We’ve been committed to this path for several years. From meeting protocols and cultural awareness training, through to raising our voice on the Uluru Statement from the Heart and supporting the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, our actions for sustainable reconciliation are based on a commitment to building understanding and supporting self-determination. We will never settle in helping work towards an Australia where all people have equal health and economic participation.

“NAIDOC Week is an important opportunity to recognise the culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and hear their calls for further action. Our NAIDOC digital art exhibition and story sharing is helping Sanofians nurture appreciation and understanding among the next generation too.”

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Steven Flynn, General Manager of Baxter Healthcare ANZ, commented “NAIDOC Week is a time to celebrate our progress as a society towards ending racism and increasing awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. At Baxter, our approach has been to Activate Change Today and leverage our networks and spheres of influence across our workforce, marketplace and community to make an impact towards closing the gap.

“Importantly, it is our employees who are leading this change with the introduction of Baxter scholarship programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing students, expanded health services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and the launch of our first Reconciliation Action Plan.”

Anne Harris, Managing Director of Pfizer ANZ, stated “In honour of our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan, Pfizer’s vision is for its colleagues to walk alongside First Nations communities to understand and advocate for the need to address health inequalities experienced by First Nations peoples.

“During NAIDOC Week, Pfizer is engaging in multiple community activities, including yarning with Barkindji and Ngiyampaa woman Shantelle Thompson, learning about traditional Aboriginal bush tucker at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, and participating in community celebrations in Western Sydney. Our reflection on reconciliation is a conscious action, and in line with this year’s theme for NAIDOC, we are encouraging colleagues to ‘Get Up! Stand Up! and Show Up!’ with First Nations people.”

Jonathan Primmer, General Manager of Abbott Vascular ANZ, stated “We will submit our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan to Reconciliation Australia during NAIDOC week, 2022. Our plan outlines our path toward deeper engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This starts with our purpose of helping people to live fully through our life-changing technologies and is reflected in our commitment to creating a healthier, sustainable future for everyone we serve. It also reflects our commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality. We will do this by using our expertise, innovation, quality products and services to improve the lives of First Nations Australians in partnership with government, communities and other healthcare stakeholders where opportunities arise.”

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Stuart Knight, Managing Director of Roche Products, said “We are proud to partner with Jawun, a not for profit organisation, providing Roche colleagues with the opportunity to play an integral role in our reconciliation journey. Colleagues have the opportunity to undertake secondments into Indigenous organisations, where they support capacity building and skills development, while also developing their own cultural awareness and understanding.”

In addition to corporate support of First Nations People, the Indigenous Voice must be enshrined in the Constitution. Being constitutionally protected, the Voice will be sustained and durable well beyond political timetables. It means that Indigenous empowerment and active participation in the democratic life of the nation are not dependent on the political party in power.

After his acknowledgement of country, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese began his election night victory speech by declaring, “on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, I commit to the Uluru Statement From the Heart in full”.

If the federal Parliament passes a Bill, a referendum must be held within six months to create a permanent Indigenous advisory body for the federal Parliament. The authors of the Uluru Statement have suggested May 2023 or January 2024 as likely dates for a referendum to be held. 

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