Fifty years on the from the 1967 Constitutional Referendum of indigenous recognition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander first peoples seek to be heard and believe a constitutionally recognised body specifically designed to represent their interests, is the key vehicle in actioning inclusion and overcoming disadvantage.
The Referendum Council identified the powerlessness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as fundamental to the systematic perpetuation of the conditions faced by indigenous Australians in its Final Report. The Report was the product of the National Constitutional Convention. The Council proposed a constitutionally enshrined body that advocates for indigenous rights in Federal Parliament.
The body is to be called the First Nations Voice and will act as a representative body for ATSI people. Complementary legislation would set out the function of the group and the exercise of Constitution s 51(xxvi) that allows the Commonwealth Government to make special laws for groups of people. The Referendum Council also recommended that legislation in all jurisdictions be passed that symbolically recognise First People. The Commonwealth Government is yet to respond to the proposal.
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