Case Study Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
National consultations on the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples began in May 2011. The Prime Minister appointed an Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians in December 2010, saying, ’Recognition is an important step to building trust and respect … and acknowledging that the first peoples of our nation have a unique and special place in our nation.’
The Indigenous Constitutional Recognition Secretariat within FaHCSIA provides support to the expert panel. Consultations are being held across the country so that as many Australians as possible can put forward their ideas and opinions on constitutional recognition.
The first consultations were held in the geographic heart of the nation, in the Mutitjulu community near Uluru, and in Umuwa, in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and ex officio panel member Mr Mick Gooda hosted these initial meetings.
Mr Gooda found that the Mutitjulu and Umuwa communities talked positively about constitutional recognition. Many senior elders and traditional owners attended both meetings, with many looking forward to amendments to the Constitution that embraced equality and recognition.
FaHCSIA’s government business managers played a key role in ensuring the success of the consultations in remote communities. In the Mutitjulu and Umuwa communities, they provided background information to participants on the issues before the consultative meetings and supplied logistical support to the visiting party.