Constitutional Reform - What is it all about?

The constitutional reform agenda is about recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of this country as well as addressing racial discrimination in Australia’s founding legal document – the Constitution. Currently, the Constitution doesn’t contain any references to the First People of Australia. Read more about this history, & the proposed changes please read our briefing paper

 

Constitutional Reform Position statement

Reconciliation Victoria supports the calls of the Aboriginal community in Victoria for the long-overdue negotiation of a Treaty…

A Treaty – an agreement between governments and Aboriginal people – will address the nature of Australia’s settlement and colonial history and the ongoing impacts these have had on Aboriginal people, and provide Aboriginal people self determination over their own lives and futures, as shown by evidence to be the key to creating wellbeing. … We also believe that the Australian Constitution needs to be changed, as it currently includes racist clauses and at the same time omits Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as Australia’s First Peoples.

It is our understanding that both state-based Treaty discussions and the national constitutional reform agenda can be progressed alongside each other. Both will represent significant milestones in our country’s history, but they must be informed by the diverse voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples if they are to be achieved.  To read our full position statement please follow this link.

 

So where are things at?

Nationally: The final dialogue will be held on the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum in Uluru this week, this is the culmination of nation wide consultations facilitated by the Referendum Council which provided various opportunities for community engagement around the country. Delegates from each state and terrirtory have been invited to attend the Constitutional Convention in Uluru on the 27th May.

In October a discussion paper was released, they have also launched a website to host digital consultations and provide more information on constitutional reform.

The Referendum Council sought feedback on the following proposals via their nationwide consultations.

 drafting a statement acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians, and inserting it either in the Constitution or outside the Constitution, either as a preamble in a new head of power or in a statutory Declaration of Recognition

 amending or deleting the ‘race power’, section 51 (xxvi) and replacing it with a new head of power (which might contain a statement of acknowledgement as a preamble to that power) to enable the continuation of necessary laws with respect to Indigenous issues

 inserting a constitutional prohibition against racial discrimination into the Constitution  providing for an Indigenous voice to be heard by Parliament, and the right to be consulted on legislation and policy that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

 deleting section 25, which contemplates the possibility of a State government excluding some Australians from voting in State elections on the basis of their race.

Recognise are continuing to build community awareness and support for constitutional reform. The Journey to Recognition is in hiatus, however they will have a strong presence at festivals and events over summer across Australia. 

In spite of there being bi-partisan support for constitutional reform, neither major party has officially responded to any of the recommendations made in numerous reports over the past few years by various, government initiated, committees. From the Expert Panel, to the Joint Select Committee to the Referendum Council, none of their recommendations have been officially responded to or addressed.

No date has been set for a referendum, next year will be the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 referendum, so there may be a symbolic gesture to hold the referendum on the anniversary of the most successful referendum in our nation’s history.

What is RecVic doing?

Reconciliation Victoria are committed to facilitating greater community awareness and understanding on the issues of Treaty & Constitutional Reform, and in particular to provide a balanced and informed voice on these issues to Reconciliation Victoria’s supporters and networks.

For more information about the Victorian Context and RecVic's involvement to date, follow this link.

Latest News

There has been significant coverage in the lead up to Constitutional Convention in Uluru this week (May 27).  

Calla Wahlquist, "Uluru talks on constitutional recognition 'on track' despite walkout" (The Guardian, 26th May, 2017)

Michael Gordon, "Uluru convention set to agree on Indigenous recognition, despite walkout" (The Age, 26th May)

Calla Wahlquist,"Uluru talks: delegates walk out due to sovereignty and treaty fears" (The Guardian, 25th May, 2017)

Michael Gordon "Let's be bold on Indigenous recognition, says Bill Shorten" (The Age, May 25)

Paul Daley, "Five factors that will shape the outcome for 'recognise' at Uluru" (The Guardian, May 24)

Cheryl Saunders "What does 'recognition' for Indigenous Australians actually look like?" (The Age, May 23)

Harry Hobbs, "Around 300 Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders will gather at Uluru to hold a First Nations Convention." (The Conversation, May 23)

 

For more news and information about upcoming events please visit our Latest News tab.