Constitutional recognition for Australia’s first peoples deserves a fair go

When Federal Parliament reopened last month, both major parties recommitted to Constitutional recognition for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders. The Prime Minister also announced $10 million in funding to support community discussion and education about the proposed Constitutional reforms, which will be modeled on the recommendations of a 22-member expert panel.

As Sean Brennan from the Gilbert and Tobin Centre of Public Law noted in an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, the promised funding for community discussion and education is both vital and timely, particularly in light of the campaign of myths and misinformation being waged by opponents of the reforms.

“The panel has put forward an integrated package based on acknowledgment and non-discrimination. It is now time to discuss it, without unhelpful myths and without underestimating the Australian people,” said Brennan.

Meanwhile, the Australian Reconciliation Network has also written an open letter, calling on Australians to carefully consider the panel’s recommendations.

“Many Australians would be surprised to learn that our Constitution currently allows Governments to discriminate against any group on the basis of race. We believe this is out of touch with modern Australia and does not reflect who we are as a nation today… Extensive community consultations and polling that informed the Panel’s report suggest that changes are worthy and capable of support for a referendum,” the letter says.