Australia’s Constitution has worked well to protect the rights of most Australians. It has not, however, worked well to protect the rights of Indigenous Australians.
Since the Constitution came into force in 1901, it has presided over many discriminatory laws and policies, most in relation to Indigenous people. Indigenous constitutional recognition seeks to fix this, by recognising the rightful place of the First Peoples in our nation, and putting in place some fairer constitutional rules to ensure that the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Australian government is fairer and more productive than in the past.
Cape York Partnership believes that constitutional recognition should enable Indigenous empowerment. It should guarantee Indigenous people a voice in political decision-making.
We back the recommendations of the Uluru Statement From the Heart and the Referendum Council Report. We therefore seek the following package of constitutional and legislative reforms:
- insert a new Chapter 1A, to establish an Indigenous representative body, guaranteeing Indigenous peoples a voice in the laws and policies made about their affairs
- enact an extra-constitutional Declaration and a Statute of Reconciliation to give effect to the symbolic statements of recognition and set in place some high-level agreed principles that should govern Indigenous affairs.