Country, Culture, People, Future

Constitutional recognition

Deadline for Constitution Recognition Submissions Extended

Posted: October 29th, 2014

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The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has extended its deadline on receiving public submissions. The closing date for public submissions is now 31 January 2015.

The Committee has been established to inquire into steps that can be taken to progress towards a successful referendum on the recognition of Indigenous peoples in the Australian constitution. Written submissions are prefered and can be made online at their website. Submissions can also be sent by email (jscatsi@aph.gov.au), or post:

Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

In July of this year the committee tabled an interim report in the Parliament, and it has since been holding public hearings around Australia. To access the report click here.

What is this all about?

There are a few aspects to this area: it is not just about adding positive recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Australian constitution, but also about removing very outdated and negative things that are still in that document. Unfortunately, the famous 1967 referendum that allowed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be counted in the national census, did not fix other big problems in the Australian constitution.

Section 25 of the Australian constitution allows States to disqualify people from voting, on the basis of the race of those people. The majority of people now agree that this section is discriminatory and that it should be deleted.

The 1967 referendum changed the constitution to allow the Federal Parliament, rather than the States, to make laws relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. But today, most people agree that power sometimes has been misused to allow the making of laws that harm particular races, including Indigenous Australians, more than other Australians. There are a lot of different views about how this problem might be fixed though, and YMAC is open to hearing from you about it. If you have time to read the interim report mentioned above, don’t be shy about letting YMAC’s new policy officer, Cameron Poustie, know how you think we should respond: he’s at cpoustie@ymac.org.au or on 08 9268 7000.

Finally, there’s the question of whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be recognised with an introductory paragraph somewhere in the Australian constitution. There seems to be strong support in the Australian community for this type of change as well, but at the moment there are different views as to how it might be done. It should be remembered that a proposed ‘preamble’ was voted down in a national referendum in 1999, so the consultation process before the voting needs to be a lot better this time. Again, if you have an opinion, please get in touch with Cameron Poustie as above.

Recognition in Western Australia’s constitution too

Posted: October 21st, 2014

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Apart from the much better known conversation about recognition of Aboriginal peoples in the Federal constitution (see our previous blog post), YMAC is pleased to see that the State opposition has also recently begun to push for similar recognition in the Western Australian constitution as well.

And it has only just come to our attention that they are seeking comments on their suggested changes by this Friday, 24 October!

On Wednesday 11 June 2014, Labor member for the State seat of Kimberley, Josie Farrer MLA, first spoke in Parliament about the Constitution Amendment (Recognition of Aboriginal People) Bill 2014 she introduced. It was an amazing speech, click here.

Ms Farrer, a Gidja woman from east Kimberley, has introduced a Bill that is quite simple, because the WA constitution in many ways needs less fixing than the Federal one. There are important symbolic things that need to be changed. Find out more about the Bill and the reasons for the suggested changes Opposition Leader, Mark McGowan’s website, or call YMAC policy officer Cameron Poustie on 08 9268 7000.

WA really needs to get moving on this – every other mainland Australian state has changed its state constitution to recognises Aboriginal peoples. Please consider writing to Ms Farrer, even with just a short message of support, by email to her staff person at Ms Mala Croft at mala.croft@mp.wa.gov.au .

Australian constitutional recognition: a chance to have your say, and why it matters

Posted: October 21st, 2014

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Get your voice heard

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has been established to inquire into steps that can be taken to progress towards a successful referendum on the recognition of Indigenous peoples in the Australian constitution.

The committee is currently receiving public submissions, and they are due by THURSDAY 30 October 2014. The committee prefers that written submissions are made online at their website. Submissions can also be sent by email (jscatsi@aph.gov.au), or post:

Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

In July of this year the committee tabled an interim report in the Parliament, and it has since been holding public hearings around Australia. To access the report click here.

What is this all about?

There are a few aspects to this area: it is not just about adding positive recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Australian constitution, but also about removing very outdated and negative things that are still in that document. Unfortunately, the famous 1967 referendum that allowed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be counted in the national census, did not fix other big problems in the Australian constitution.

Section 25 of the Australian constitution allows States to disqualify people from voting, on the basis of the race of those people. The majority of people now agree that this section is discriminatory and that it should be deleted.

The 1967 referendum changed the constitution to allow the Federal Parliament, rather than the States, to make laws relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. But today, most people agree that power sometimes has been misused to allow the making of laws that harm particular races, including Indigenous Australians, more than other Australians. There are a lot of different views about how this problem might be fixed though, and YMAC is open to hearing from you about it. If you have time to read the interim report mentioned above, don’t be shy about letting YMAC’s new policy officer, Cameron Poustie, know how you think we should respond: he’s at cpoustie@ymac.org.au or on 08 9268 7000.

Finally, there’s the question of whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be recognised with an introductory paragraph somewhere in the Australian constitution. There seems to be strong support in the Australian community for this type of change as well, but at the moment there are different views as to how it might be done. It should be remembered that a proposed ‘preamble’ was voted down in a national referendum in 1999, so the consultation process before the voting needs to be a lot better this time. Again, if you have an opinion, please get in touch with Cameron Poustie as above.

Spread the Word about constitutional recognition

Posted: August 12th, 2013

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ANTaR Spread the WordSpread the Word” is a campaign run by ANTaR (Australia for Native Title and Reconciliation) to raise awareness about the constitutional recognition of Australia’s First Peoples.

ANTaR believes that constitutional recognition and Close the Gap are linked because we won’t be able to close the gaps in education and health unless we also close the gaps in respect and understanding. They believe that constitutional recognition can have a positive effect on the well being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Click here to find out more about the Spread the Word campaign, or about constitutional recognition.

If you would like to join or start an activist group on constitutional recognition, you can send your request to campaigns@antar.org.au.

Next step toward Constitutional Recognition

Posted: February 11th, 2013

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A significant step along the road to Constitutional Recognition is fast approaching.  The Bill of Recognition introduced to Federal Parliament in November is expected to be voted on this Wednesday 13 February.
 
ANTaR is asking for your support to call on Federal Politicians to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution and protect all Australians from racial discrimination.
 
Click here to add your support to the call for change.

To learn more about constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, visit http://www.youmeunity.org.au/ or http://antar.org.au/

Community Forum on Constitutional Recognition

Posted: June 5th, 2012

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On Tuesday, 26 June 2012, a community forum will be held at Christ Church Anglican Church in the Perth suburb of Claremont to discuss constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

YMAC’s In-house legal counsel, Dr. Carolyn Tan, will be chairing the discussion, with Hon. Fred Chaney and Tammy Solonec on the panel.

The topics to be discussed include:

  • What is our Constitution?
  • Why are changes needed?
  • How should I vote in a National Referendum?

Click here for more information on the event.

For more information on constitutional recognition, visit the You Me Unity website.

YMAC News issue 15 is here

Posted: September 15th, 2011

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YMAC is pleased to share the latest issue of YMAC News, which is now available It is filled with information about the great work being done by traditional owners and YMAC staff across the two YMAC regions.

Issue 15 of our newsletter highlights native title agreements for the Kariyarra and Gnulli people, a major step forward for the Bunjima people, some impressive achievements by YMAC staff and our organisation’s firm resolve on the issue of constitutional recognition for Australia’s original inhabitants.

We hope you enjoy the 15th issue of YMAC News.

Click here to download an electronic version  or email srosenfeld@ymac.org.au to request hard copies for yourself, your family, your business or workplace.






Geraldton community to have their say about constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Posted: May 19th, 2011

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To address the issue of constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,the Australian Government has appointed an expert panel, co-chaired by Professor Patrick Dodson and Mr Mark Leibler AC.

The panel is undertaking a broad national consultation program to seek views from across the Australian community about ideas for recognising Indigenous Australians in our nation’s Constitution.

Mr Fred Chaney and Mr Bill Lawson will be holding a public consultation in Geraldton on Wednesday 25 May 2011 12:30pm at 2:30pm at the Ocean Centre Hotel in Geraldton.

This event offers an opportunity for the Geraldton community to join this important national conversation, to hear about the work of the Expert Panel and more importantly to offer their views and ideas about Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians.

To learn more about the national discussion on constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, check out the You Me Unity website. To learn more about the expert panel click here.

For more information about the public consultation in Geraldton or to RSVP to the event call  (02) 6219 7759 or email  James.Malar@fahcsia.gov.au