‘The long road to recognition‘, Inside Story, 19 May 2017 updated
Given the disparate experiences [says Daley] of delegates and their divergent views (on recognition versus treaties and another publicly-funded elected Indigenous representative body, reconciliation ahead of public truth telling, and agreeing to recognition when sovereignty has never been surrendered), anticipating agreement on so momentous a proposition vastly underestimates the complexities. But then again, our white politicians have always imposed expectations on Indigenous political comportment and consensus-making they’d never self-apply.
Ultimately, all Australians need to ask a simple question: is constitutional recognition of Indigenous peoples for the First Australians or for non-Indigenous Australians? If the former, their views should form the basis for the model. If the latter, then there seems little point in asking them at all.
On 23-26 May, 50 years since the 1967 referendum, representatives from First Nations regional dialogues will meet at Uluru for the first Australian First Nations Constitutional Convention. The aim is to seek agreement on whether and how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples might be ‘recognised’ in the Australian Constitution.
This article traces the background to the recognition movement, discussing the differing views among Indigenous Australians, the role of the Referendum Council, and the different outcomes that might emerge. The history of earlier efforts is summarised.
The proposals that attracted strong support [in the regional dialogues] – treaty negotiations, an enhanced role and voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia’s democratic system, a prohibition on racial discrimination, a truth and justice commission – all build on decades of consultations and inquiries. They embody the political advocacy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander campaigners stretching back into the nineteenth century. They reflect Australia’s international obligations, and they mirror structural reforms that have been achieved in other countries.