Signs of Coalition support for an Act of Recognition Bill acknowledging Indigenous Australians in the Constitution were a step forward on the path to a referendum, Oxfam Australia said today.
According to the international aid agency, the Coalition’s support, which was subject to final party room approval, would show they were willing to work with the Government to progress moves to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution.
Oxfam Australia’s Indigenous rights policy adviser Andrew Meehan said signs of the strengthening of multi-party support were promising.
“This seems to be an issue the parties are working on together in good faith,” he said.
Mr Meehan said further moves to establish a Joint Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition should be seen as an opportunity to maintain and strengthen multiparty support and take clear steps towards a referendum in the next electoral cycle.
“The Committee’s terms of reference should reflect the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition which reported earlier this year, and ensure real engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Mr Meehan said.
He said recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution would bring Australia’s Constitution up to date and reflected the views of many Indigenous and non-Indigenous people throughout Australia.
“Changing the Constitution is a way all Australians can join together to acknowledge our history and the great contribution made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Mr Meehan said.
An Act of Recognition was proposed by the government as an interim measure to help build momentum for a referendum to acknowledge Indigenous Australians in the Constitution in the future.
Oxfam Australia has supported opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to exercise their rights to basic social services, sustainable livelihoods, a strong voice and cultural diversity, for more than 30 years.
By addressing the exclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the nation’s founding document, Constitutional recognition has the potential to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
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