About Constitutional Recognition

Tree image Founding document of the nation

The Constitution is the founding document of our nation and is the pre-eminent source of law.

The Constitution was drafted at a time when Australia was considered a land that belonged to no one before European settlement and when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were considered a 'dying race' not worthy of citizenship or humanity.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were excluded from the discussions about the creation of a new nation to be situated on their Ancestral lands and waters.

Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not mentioned in the Constitution.

The Constitution still allows racial discrimination – not just against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but against anyone.

The only way we can change the Constitution is if a majority of voters in a majority of states vote YES at a referendum.

A referendum is a vote by Australians over the age of 18, just like voting in an election. Instead of voting on politicians as we do in an election, in a referendum we vote on a specific change to the Constitution.

In a 1967 referendum, over 90% of Australian voters agreed to change our Constitution to give the federal parliament the power to make laws in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to allow for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be included in the census. But this referendum did not recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as first peoples.

The Benefits of change

Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the preamble of the Constitution and ensuring the Constitution does not discriminate against anyone will not give any Australians more rights than others. In fact, these changes will build stronger relationships of trust and mutual respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

The right time for change?

Now is the right time to create a nation for all of us.