Australia’s special envoy for reconciliation believes the corporate sector will play an important role in the implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

West Australian senator Patrick Dodson says corporations and organisations can play an important role in reaching reconciliation by supporting the Uluru Statement and educating their staff, clients and communities about it.

Senator Dodson told the Reconciliation Action Plan Conference in Sydney on Thursday that there were already positive signs from the sector.

He said Rio Tinto board members and executives had committed the company to hearing Indigenous voices and perspectives, and News Corp’s executive chairman Michael Miller had also endorsed Labor’s agenda to implement a Voice to Parliament.

“I’m heartened by what I sense is the positive mood out there about the possibilities ahead,” Senator Dodson said.

He wants to reach a consensus in the coming months on the wording for a referendum to be held during this term of parliament, but says it has to happen fast.

“We do not have the time for too much argy-bargy about this because we have to get on with a comprehensive education campaign,” Senator Dodson said.

He recognises there will be a diversity of views across the parliament, just as there is outside it, and those need to be respected.

“But I do want to make sure that everyone at least understands properly what it is that we want to achieve,” Senator Dodson said.

“It will redefine us as a nation.”

He said the country “is yearning for change”, evidenced by the rousing applause Prime Minister Anthony Albanese received when promising to implement the Uluru Statement and its components during his campaign launch and victory speech.

“So many people now want to put to rest the arguments and disputations that have characterised the national conversations of the past decades about how the country deals with its First Nations peoples,” Senator Dodson said.

“A weariness has been weighing us down for too long.”