The federal government is proposing to hold a referendum to formally recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Constitution.
Sounds like a good progressive idea? Many prominent Aboriginal leaders disagree.
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“Constitutional recognition is said to be about equality and civil rights, but what we're fighting for is the right to determine our own destiny. This government isn't ready to facilitate real power sharing. When nations enter into treaties they share economic power.
“Recognise is a government-run initiative which was thought up by the Howard Government as a last attempt to stay in office.
“Recognise has a budget of $15 million for travel to Aboriginal communities to promote the campaign. At the moment there has been $500 million slashed from Aboriginal organisations on a national scale: to me this is entrapment.
“With one hand they take away the resources for our people to survive and with the other they give us a poor alternative — a campaign that is not going to change our circumstances.”
Boe Skuthorpe-Spearim (Gamliaraay)
“Recognise assumes that we want to be Australians. Australia as a white settler nation has only existed for 227 years.”
Callum Clayton-Dixon (Nganyaywana)
“Nothing has changed. It's just a new Act and new provision that's being imposed on us, keeping our people down. We'll still have the dominant society over the top of us who make laws and policies that continue to deprive us of our basic human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
Bob Weatherall (Gamliaraay)
“Constitutional Recognition is about tacking us on the back of the White Australia Policy a hundred years later. If we do consent to that constitution we're giving up our sovereignty in a sense, and legitimising what's happened to us over the last 200 years in this country”.
Robbie Thorpe (Gunnai)
“Recognising Aboriginal people in the constitution embeds into Australia's make up the idea that Aboriginal people are a race that need government to advance and to make laws and policies on our behalf. It denies any right to self determination or control over our own affairs”.
Phil Winzer (Ngarabul/ Gamliaraay)