The 20th anniversary of the landmark Mabo decision this Sunday (3 June) is an opportunity to reflect on the next stage of recognition of Australia’s first peoples – including them in Australia’s constitution, Oxfam said today.
The international aid agency, which works with Indigenous Australians, said National Reconciliation Week was a time to celebrate two defining moments in Australia’s history – the successful 1967 Referendum, and the landmark Mabo decision.
“This Sunday is an opportunity to pause and reflect on these milestones, and ask ourselves how we can build on them to create a truly reconciled nation,” Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said.
“Twenty years ago, the High Court recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have a special relationship with this land that existed before colonisation and continues today. This generation now has an opportunity to finally recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution.”
Mr Hewett said more than 270 events were being held throughout the country this week – building understanding and raising awareness of the importance of Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
During the week, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill committed to formally recognise the First Australians in South Australia’s Constitution.
“Momentum is starting to build on this issue – it is the next landmark step the nation needs to take on the journey towards reconciliation,” Mr Hewett said.
“Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution and removing discriminatory provisions appeals to Australia’s sense of fairness.
“It’s a way all Australians can join together to acknowledge our history and the great contribution made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
He said this year’s Reconciliation Week theme, ‘Let’s Talk Recognition’, built on the momentum created by the work of the Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, which engaged with Australians across the nation last year and delivered its recommendations for Constitutional change to the Federal Government in January.
The public education and awareness program to educate Australians about the Constitution and the importance of Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is now under way.
Go to oxfam.org.au for more information.
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