Uni students hold ’60s style ‘teach-ins’ for Constitutional Recognition

Campaigns and Advocacy, Indigenous Affairs, Media Releases, News article written on the 10 Oct 2013

University students across Australia will pay tribute to the campus activism of the 1960s as part of the launch of a new student campaign in support of Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The new national movement, Students for Recognition, will involve events at universities across the country that take inspiration from the student civil rights movement of the ‘60s, a decade that marked significant social progress.

Oxfam Australia’s Indigenous Rights Policy Advisor Andrew Meehan said Oxfam’s university groups were leading the student movement, which aimed to help build momentum for righting the historical wrong of the Constitution excluding any mention of Australia’s First Peoples.

“Students and young people fought for, and won, massive social change in the ‘60s, playing a vital role in historic events such as the 1965 Freedom Ride and the 1967 referendum, ushering in a new era for civil rights,” he said.

“Constitutional recognition is this generation’s chance to be a part of history in the making – it’s really exciting to see students getting behind this issue and driving the movement on campus.”

Mr Meehan said Constitutional Recognition had long been called for by Indigenous peoples, and was firmly on the nation’s political agenda, with a strong commitment from all parties to finalise a proposal in the coming year.

“Most people would be surprised to find that our founding document allows for discrimination, such as excluding people from voting based on their race,” he said.  “The time has come for change. Recognising the First Australians and removing discrimination from our founding document is just the right thing to do.”

Students for Recognition’s official launch is at Melbourne’s La Trobe University today (10 October) with an event from 11am – 2pm.

La Trobe Uni student Jenny Stramilos, aged 19, said the La Trobe event would feature a ‘teach-in’, where students could learn about the issue, enjoy ‘60s music and hear inspiring speakers including global campaigner for Indigenous rights, Nayuka Gorrie.

“It’s astonishing that our founding legal and political document fails to mention Indigenous peoples’ valued place as part of our national identity,” Ms Stramilos said.

“This is our chance to help write the next chapter of our national story together, to unite the nation, and build a movement of students and young people who can really make an impact in this generation. And we have more tools at our disposal to do so than ever before.”

Find out more at http://www.oxfam.org.au/studentsforrecognition

Other universities participating are The University of Adelaide, The University of Tasmania, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Woollongong University, The University of Queensland, Macquarie University, Sydney College of the Arts, The University of NSW, The University of Melbourne and Australian National University.

Oxfam works in partnership with Recognise – the national campaign for Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Media enquiries to Laurelle Keough on 0425 701 801 or laurellek@oxfam.org.au