This Constitutional Recognition page last updated: 17 Feb 2012
The Australian Government is currently considering holding a referendum (a public vote) to change the Australian Constitution so that it better recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Changing the Australian Constitution, which was first written more than 100 years ago when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were not respected or acknowledged, would be an important step towards reconciliation.
How exactly the constitution should be changed it being discussed in reports, websites and at events across the country. This page includes some links to information about the issues, and ways you can get involved.
Visit the YouMeUnity website for latest news, fact sheets and submissions by different groups about how they think the Constitution should be changed: http://www.youmeunity.org.au
Recommendations of the Expert Panel
The Federal Government set up a panel of experts to consider the best ways to make changes to the Constitution. The panel released their report in January 2012. Read the report here: http://www.youmeunity.org.au/final-report
For a simple summary explaining how the Constitution works, what parts deal with Aboriginal people, and how the expert panel thinks the Constitution should be changed see the Constitution Fact Sheet , the Executive Summary and Recommendations in Plan English, also available from: http://www.youmeunity.org.au/final-report
What changes to the Constitution are being considered?
Several options are being debated - see the discussion papers and submissions on the YouMeUnity website for details. The Expert Panel has called for particular changes which it thinks best recognise Aboriginal people. In summary these changes are:
- Add a statement recognising the prior occupation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and their unique and significant contribution to the life of this nation.
- Remove the ability of States and Territories to disqualify people from voting on the basis of race (section 25).
- Remove the right of governments to make laws to the detriment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
- Create a new power to make positive laws with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Add a new protection against discrimination on the basis of race, colour or ethnicity.
- Recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages as the original Australian languages.
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation Campaign
Read the Question and Answer Fact Sheet here: http://www.reconciliation.org.au/home/resources/constitutional-recognition
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Please report broken links and inappropriate links to recon@reconciliACTION.org.au.