Act of Recognition passes through Parliament - 13 February, 2013.
Today's Apology anniversary also coincided with the passing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill.
The Bill will help pave the way for a referendum on the Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition gave powerful speeches on the passing of the Act, in a rare show of bipartisanship that will be essential for a successful referendum.
''We have to acknowledge that pre-1788, this land was as Aboriginal then as it is Australian now and, until we have acknowledged that, we will be an incomplete nation and a torn people,'' Tony Abbott said.
''We only have to look across the Tasman to see how it all could have been done so much better. Thanks to the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand two peoples became one nation. So, our challenge is to do now in these times what should have been done 200 or 100 years ago: to acknowledge Aboriginal people in our country's foundation document.”
The Prime Minister said that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were affected by the “great Australian silence” which fell upon our founding document. “Because among the 128 sections of the Constitution, there is no acknowledgement of Australia’s First Peoples. No mention of their dispossession. Their proud and ancient cultures. Their profound connection to the land. Or the unhealed wound that even now lies open at the heart of our national story.” She went on to say “our nation cannot articulate such a sense of self when there is still great unanswered questions in our midst. How do we share this land and on what terms?”
Concluding her speech the Prime Minister stated “No gesture speaks more deeply to the healing of our nation’s fabric than amending our nation’s founding charter.”
Some more exciting news today with the launch of a new look website for the Recognise campaign AND the launch of the “Journey to Recognition” movement, inspired by Michael Long’s ‘The Long Walk’.
Read Michael Gordon's article in The Age: A handshake on a fresh start
Find out more or sign up to campaign here! http://buzz.mw/-lNK_0
Act of Recognition introduced into Parliament (28/11/2012)
Australia has taken another step towards a great moment for the country, with the introduction of an Act of Recognition in Parliament today.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin brought the bill into the House of Representatives this morning.
The Act will ask the parliament to recognise the impressive history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this land and their unique contribution to the nation.
It will also demonstrate to the country the breadth of parliamentary support for the goal of constitutional recognition.
“This proposed Act is another step towards a big dream – the recognition of the first Australians in our Constitution,” said You Me Unity campaign director Tim Gartrell.
“More than 110,000 Australians are now supporters of this cause, helping to build momentum for change.”
“Recognition would help to unite the country. It would draw a close to the exclusions of the past, and help us to forge our future together.”
Debate on the bill is expected early next year, with both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on record in backing Indigenous constitutional recognition.
Both sides have compromised in striking agreement on the Act and over establishing a joint select committee. Its role will be to refine a model, consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and build public support for this change.
“Bipartisanship will be crucial,” Mr Gartrell said. “We are delighted to see leadership on both sides working to forge a consensus.”
PM announces plans for Act of Recognition (20/9/2012)
The Gillard Government today announced plans to introduce an Act of Recognition into the Australian Parliament before the end of the year, as an interim measure to holding a referendum on Constitutional Recognition. This means that a referendum will not go ahead by the next election, as was the original commitment. The 'Act of Recognition' would have a two-year sunset clause, in the expectation that a referendum will be put by the next government, irrespective of who wins (see link to The Age article below).
RecVic's initial response to this announcement, largely consistent with Reconciliation Australia and ANTaR responses, is:
- We welcome today's commitment to legislate an Act of Recognition as a step on the road to Constitutional Recognition
- We await further detail about the proposed Act of Recognition, but hope that it reflects all elements of the Expert Panel's package, including the inclusion of a prohibition on racial discrimination.
- We urge the Parliament to provide a firm and bi-partisan commitment on the timing of a referendum.
- What we've learnt from the '67 referendum campaigners is it took 10 years to reach out to the majority of Australians to touch their hearts and minds. We don't expect it to take that long but the research conducted by You Me Unity suggests that awareness isn't high enough to hold a successful referendum yet.
- We support the Expert Panel's advice that careful consideration of the timing of a referendum on this issue is crucial to ensure the best chance of success.
- We are happy that the Government, Opposition, Greens and Independents are talking to one another because for a referendum to be successful we need the support of the whole Parliament, along with states and territories and the Australian people.
- We must continue our efforts to engage more people in the conversation.
- Building up recognition of the histories and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at the LOCAL level will create a foundation for achieving recognition at the national level.
To view full story in today's Age visit http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/pm-plan-for-indigenous-recognition-20120919-2672z.html
Message from The Right Honourable Malcolm Fraser, AC, CH
"A sound proposal has been recommended to recognise Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in the Australian Constitution. It is important that this be treated on a bipartisan basis. Politicians in Canberra need to put their divisions aside and unite behind this proposal. It should be put to a referendum separately by itself so that it cannot be confused with any other issue. It will be an important landmark in Australia's Constitutional development. The objective should be to have an overwhelming majority of Australians supporting the recommendations. I will do everything I can to help achieve that result."
1 June, 2012
The following Resolution was adopted by Reconciliation Victoria on 6 February 2012:
• Supports the scope and intent of the recommendations made by the Expert Panel
on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples;
• Will work towards community review, understanding and, if necessary,
improvement of the recommendations.
We do so acknowledging that:
• Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution is
part of the unfinished business of the recommendations made by the Council for
Aboriginal Reconciliation in 2000; and
• Constitutional Recognition is a necessary and positive step forward, but is not an
end to the reconciliation journey: it alone is not sufficient to achieve outcomes
required of a fully reconciled and fair Australia.
Reconciliation Victoria will further consider the following outstanding issues not
explicitly addressed by the Panel's recommendations, which we discussed in our
Submission to the Panel:
• A requirement for 'prior and informed consent' in relation to the proposal to
enable laws to be made for the 'advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
• Agreements, treaties and the claims of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
people to sovereignty.