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Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians

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In a speech to the House of Representatives last week, the member for Lynne Robert Oakeshott called on his fellow MP’s to lend their support to a referendum for the Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Holding up a You Me Unity t-shirt, a symbol of his journey with the Panel on the Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples last year, Mr Oakeshott spoke of the importance of Constitutional change.

“Our lead document should refer to our unique and oldest culture in the world,” said Mr Oakeshott. “It should celebrate some of the extraordinary parts of that culture, whether that is Aboriginal languages, culture and heritage, dreaming, connection to land or connection to place”.

Last year, Mr Oakeshott formed part of a Panel of 20 Indigenous and non-Indigenous community leaders, legal experts and members of parliament appointed by the Prime Minister to explore options for Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.

As part of an extensive consultative process, the Panel hosted public forums in 84 remote, regional and urban communities across Australia and encouraged over 3,600 submissions to the You Me Unity website before handing their recommendations to Government in January this year.

Mr Oakeshott said it was clear from the people who got involved in the Panel’s campaign there was strong community support for recognising Indigenous Australians in the nation’s founding document.

“We in Australia today have an opportunity to do some unfinished business,” he said. “Ordinary people want this issue dealt with. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples want this issue dealt with. I hope that we as public policy makers do what we can to put a referendum to the people”.

Last month, the Prime Minister announced that peak national organisation building and promoting reconciliation across the country, Reconciliation Australia, had been appointed to carry out a national education campaign in the lead-up to a referendum.

“The Reconciliation Australia campaign will build on the positive mood for change that was evident at the hundreds of meetings and consultations that Panel member held across the country”, Mr Oakeshott said.

“This support came from a range of organisations, community groups and individuals and now we are looking forward to working with them to see this through to a successful referendum.

“We want people to spread the message on how important it is for a modern, forward-looking country like Australia to recognise the history, cultures, art and languages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

“A good place to start is to visit the website to find out more, show your support and see what others are saying about constitutional recognition,” Mr Oakeshott said.

For more information contact: Holly Reid 0431 534 686