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Why Denstu and Cox Inall Rigdeway Gave their Voice to Support Indigenous Australians


Tiernan Campbell-O’Brien, Cox Inall Ridgeway’s head of engagement and communications, talks to LBB’s Casey Martin on partnering with dentsu to create an important guide for Australian businesses

Why Denstu and Cox Inall Rigdeway Gave their Voice to Support Indigenous Australians

Any time there is a proposed change to the constitution, it’s a huge deal. That’s a given. It sparks debate and creates sides. And to be able to make this important decision to establish an Indigenous voice in parliament, the public needs to be as well-informed as the politicians proposing the change. 
Fortunately, Cox Inall Ridgeway and denstu have decided to take a stand and present a free guide for all Australian businesses that not only explains the Voice referendum, but also gives advice on how to implement support for the Yes vote in the office. 

The guide is wholly comprehensive, giving the reader both sides of the story with resources that support the information. The document is laying it out on the line and giving readers the option to make their own choice on the vote on the referendum later this year. 

Whilst other businesses across the country have not taken a stand on the referendum - and the reasons why are complex - dentsu have stood up and chosen to announce their support for Yes. And by presenting this guide, they’ve made the issue accessible for those sitting on the fence. 

It’s an enormous - and commendable - feat. LBB’s Casey Martin was fortunate enough to talk with Tiernan Campbell-O’Brien, Cox Inall Ridgeway’s head of engagement and communications, on why they have chosen to take a stand and what it truly means to do... 

LBB> What inspired dentsu to create "The Voice", and how does it align with the company's values and objectives?
Tiernan > dentsu is an agency of connection and change, designed for what’s next. At the core, dentsu’s Japanese operating philosophy of ‘Sanpo-Yoshi’, translating in English to ‘good in three ways’ - good for our people, good for business, and good for society. The ‘Voice Guide’ is a localised extension of the ‘Sanpo-Yoshi’ philosophy we have at dentsu. When considering the inspiration for creating ‘The Voice’ guide, we at dentsu and Cox Inall Ridgeway anticipate corporate support will be critical to a successful referendum, so we wanted to support our partners in doing so.

LBB> What impact are you hoping this guide has on its audiences?
Tiernan  Our hope is that by sharing the guide, we can assist more of our partners and corporate Australia gain a clear insight on how to support a successful referendum, and provide a process to guide their people as well.

LBB> Many people have voiced their opinions on the referendum, stating that it is unclear and too vague. Do you see The Voice as a way to combat these concerns? 
Tiernan > In very simple terms, we see ‘The Voice’ guide as a way to cut through the ‘noise’. The guide is process orientated to help our partners and corporate Australia understand how they can take public support of a successful referendum (or start with) to cascade relevant information to their people and their customers on why they are supporting this, what difference this could make for First Nations people, and how they can help their people learn more.

LBB> Talk us through the process of producing this guide, the challenges, the joys, what have you learnt, and what you’ve overcome? 
Tiernan > The process of developing the guide was informed mainly by what Cox Inall Ridgeway has experienced with their corporate clients and interested corporate entities, after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced his support for the full implementation of the ‘Uluru Statement From The Heart’ and intention to hold a referendum in 2023. As a result, they experienced a lot of corporate goodwill and support for the referendum, but all corporate’s wanted to know what more they could be doing. Working with dentsu, Cox Inall Ridgeway guided us on what ‘good’ corporate support looks like for the referendum and ‘The Voice’ guide emerged as a tool that could be provided to all our partners and corporate Australia.

LBB> Something I noticed about the guide was it not only explored the Yes campaign and the views of Indigenous Australian but also the No campaign and why some Indigenous Australians are supporting it. What was the purpose behind exploring both sides of the story? 
Tiernan > The ‘Voice Guide’ aims to educate our clients and corporate Australia on the current context and discourse (at time of release) of the referendum debate. By providing readers with this information, we hope to debunk myths around the referendum – including that all First Nations support this (83% do support per latest polling (YouGov 2023), but that still leaves 17% unsure or not supportive). We want our partners and corporate Australia to be well informed, to support all with questions and views that may not necessarily be supportive of the constitutional amendment.

LBB> In your experience working with Indigenous businesses and communities, what are some of the biggest misconceptions or misunderstandings that non-Indigenous Australians have about Indigenous culture and values, and how can these be addressed?

Tiernan > Good question, there are a lot misconceptions and misunderstandings that we are hearing from Non-Indigenous people, some of which include:

That all First Nations people need to agree on this for us to support it – We don’t expect this of our society in general and it is unfair for us to expect this of a diverse demographic.

That the constitutional reform will give an Advisory body ‘veto’ powers – this is not the case, it will be an Advisory Group that provides context/advice/recommendations to the Parliament on matters that affect First Nations people, they will have no decision-making authority.

That this is a new concept – This in fact has been a longstanding process, starting with community led dialogues in 2017, but advocating for this process since the early 2000’s.

LBB> Finally, what’s your view on how businesses and organisations in Australia can take concrete steps towards advancing reconciliation and promoting greater inclusion and representation for Indigenous Australians, both within their own operations and in the wider community?

Tiernan > Cox Inall Ridgeway supports corporate Australia to begin their reconciliation journey, by listening and learning about First Nations histories (pre-contact and shared) to understand how their business can better connect and reflect the lands, communities and people they influence.

This can start with developing and implementing a Reconciliation Action Plan, right through to re-addressing business practices and asking ourselves ‘are these inclusive or supportive of First Nations people?’ It doesn’t always need to be through hiring, but through media/advertising/branding (is our external identity reflective of the diverse communities we live and operate in?), policies (do we create opportunities for First Nations businesses to work/provide services for us? Do we have an anti-race/discrimination policy for staff?) and connection with First Nations communities (do we have relationships with First Nations people, especially in the places we operate?)

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Dentsu Creative Australia, Wed, 10 May 2023 22:15:48 GMT