Constitutional Recognition: a vital human need, not a courtesy

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Stephanie Roberts


Without constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians, Australia cannot adequately recognise, respect and protect Indigenous rights to self-determination, culture, sovereignty and development (Bellier and Préaud 2011). The Commonwealth has a long history of disenfranchising, silencing and othering Indigenous Australians and this vision of constitutional recognition is constrained by a number of factors, primarily the need for a referendum. Indigenous Australians are only 3.3 percent of the total Australian population (ABS Census 2016). With this in mind, in accordance with the 2012 Expert Panel recommendation and the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart, my opinion is that a successful and consequential referendum relies on a thorough, government-funded but Indigenous-led educational campaign to promote visibility, conversation and learning between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (Newman 2019). Often excluded from writing their own narrative, with ‘substantive constitutional change and structural reform’ (1 Voice Uluru 2019) provides the circumstances vital for providing Indigenous Australians with deserved respect, sovereignty and self-determination as Taylor explains ‘due recognition is not just a courtesy we owe people. It is a vital human need’ (1992).

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How to Cite
Roberts, S. (2020). Constitutional Recognition: a vital human need, not a courtesy. NEW: Emerging Scholars in Australian Indigenous Studies, 5(1).