Commenting on the final report on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples tabled in Federal Parliament today, Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said:
“The Australian Government has a unique opportunity to act on important unfinished business for Australia’s First Peoples, and the nation as a whole, and this should not be delayed.
“Establishing an Indigenous Voice to the Parliament was recommended in the report of the Referendum Council, which was set up by the Coalition and Labor.
“Now the Joint Committee on Constitutional Recognition has given this concept cross-party support and has recommended Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples work with Government on a process of co-design to achieve this crucial change.
“This process must now be given priority to be achieved in the next term of Parliament. Any move to delay the recognition of Indigenous people being enshrined in the Constitution would be roundly criticised by Australia’s First peoples, who waited until 1967 to be recognised as citizens and should not have to wait any longer to gain their rightful foothold in our democratic system.
“The failure of successive governments to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has condemned too many Indigenous Australians to entrenched inequality and disadvantage.
“A Voice to Parliament would advise Government on laws affecting Indigenous people – and genuinely include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in decisions on matters that affect their lives.
“Australia will be a stronger and more unified nation by recognising the rights and unique place of First Nations people – and the voice to Parliament is the best way to do this.
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