Today’s passing of the Act of Recognition Bill through the House of Representatives is an historic moment for the nation and a great show of multi-party resolve to hold a referendum, according to Oxfam Australia.
Oxfam Australia CEO Dr Helen Szoke said while the passing of the Bill was incredibly significant, all parties must continue to promote the importance of constitutional recognition to move Australia towards a successful referendum.
“Today – the fifth anniversary of The Apology to the Stolen Generations – gives Australians cause to reflect on government policies that dispossessed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the country and the devastating effect this had,” Dr Szoke said.
“In an election year, it’s tremendous to see that recognising Indigenous peoples in Australia’s Constitution is an issue all parties support, with today’s passing of the Act of Recognition Bill signifying an important step forward.
“Changing the Constitution is a way all Australians can unite to acknowledge our history and the great contribution made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
Dr Szoke emphasised that all parties should continue to promote the importance of constitutional recognition, alongside their policy platforms.
“The public education campaign has started, and public momentum is increasing,” she said.
“But change will not happen without continued leadership across the political spectrum, and the support of the majority of Australians.”
Dr Szoke said she looked forward to the government conducting a review within the next year to examine public support for a referendum on constitutional recognition, as outlined in the Bill.
“It’s essential that any review involves meaningful consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Dr Szoke said.
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.
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