Reject minimalism on referendum anniversary
May 26, 2017
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum and as the nation marks another National Sorry Day, KLC CEO Nolan Hunter says Australia must act now if it wants to see real Indigenous recognition.
“The 1967 referendum was a defining moment – a date in history when Indigenous Australians were recognised as citizens at law and more importantly in the mind’s eye of the Australian public,” Mr Hunter says.
“But today we know that while the 1967 referendum achieved something, it did not achieve everything.
“We still have a long road to walk if we want real recognition and change for our Indigenous brothers and sisters.”
Mr Hunter says the push for constitutional change has persisted in the years following 1967, but all attempts have either faltered at the start or failed at the finish line.
“In 2017, we find ourselves in the midst of another Indigenous constitutional recognition debate,” he says.
“This time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are calling for more than just symbolic recognition.
“We want substantive, structural reform.”
According to Hunter, real change should provide a constitutional guarantee, such as racial non-discrimination protection and a constitutionally mandated First Peoples body.
“What it means to be an Indigenous Australian has changed dramatically in the half century since more than 90 per cent of Australians voted to change the Australian Constitution,” Mr Hunter says.
“As we travel further down this road to reform, we won’t accept anything less than real change.”
On 27 May 1967, 90 per cent of Australians voted yes to in a referendum which allowed the Commonwealth to make laws for all Australians and take account of Aboriginal people when determining the population.
There have been 44 Referendums in Australia’s history and only eight carried.