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HESTA says UN rights of Indigenous Peoples declaration has many benefits

[supplied by HESTA]


HESTA CEO Debby Blakey. Image: supplied

Applying the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) principles in Australia would lead to greater certainty for investors, better outcomes for Indigenous Australians and strong returns for members, superannuation fund HESTA says.


The UNDRIP establishes universally applicable minimum standards for the survival, dignity, wellbeing and rights of the world’s First Peoples and is the result of more than two decades of negotiations between various governments and First Peoples representatives.


HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said the Fund takes its obligation to advance the ambitions of reconciliation in Australia very seriously both as a superannuation fund with First Nations members and as an investor seeking to maximise long-term financial outcomes for its members.


“Our superannuation system was intended to benefit all Australians; however, the systemic disadvantage faced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during their working lives means that they also face increased financial insecurity in retirement.”


“There are many benefits to applying the UNDRIP principles in Australia. Not only will it help improve social and financial outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but we believe it can help improve financial outcomes for investors, resulting in stronger returns for our members”, Ms Blakey said.


In its submission to the Senate Inquiry into the application of the UNDRIP in Australia, HESTA outlined the risks and implications for investors when the rights of First Peoples are not upheld, referring to Rio Tinto’s destruction of significant cultural heritage at Juukan Gorge.


“As long-term investors, we believe that strong and respectful stakeholder relationships are essential to realising long-term company value and strong returns for our members”, Ms Blakey said.


Endorsed by Australia in 2009, the UNDRIP has broad community and stakeholder support but there is a legislative gap, with HESTA stating that community and stakeholder efforts alone can only go far to support the application of UNDRIP principles.


“We are calling on federal and state governments to create legislation aligned with UNDRIP that will provide investors certainty about the level of human rights-based risk at companies in which they invest”, Ms Blakey said.


“The application of the UNDRIP in legislation will create alignment for corporations and investors who already publicly support these principles and send appropriate signals to those who do not.”


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