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Aboriginal Australia - Referendums and Recognition: Constitutional recognition campaign

Resources describing the 1967 Referendum and the Aboriginal civil rights movement

Introduction

This guide to sources relating to the movement for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians was last updated by Library staff in 2020. It comprises selected material held by the State Library or available online and attempts to present resources containing a number of views on the concept of, and proposed form of recognition.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Act 2013 commits Parliament to placing before the Australian people at a referendum a proposal for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

According to Recognise, conversation around this referendum is currently focused on

  • Addressing the sections of the Constitution, including section 25 and section 51(xxvi), that are based on the outdated notion of ‘race’,
  • Ensuring continued capacity for the Commonwealth Government to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,
  • Formally acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia,
  • Providing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander body to advise Parliament about matters affecting Indigenous peoples, and
  • Providing a constitutional prohibition on racial discrimination.

To find further material relevant to this topic, try searching with these subject headings in the State Library catalogue:

  • Aboriginal Australians Civil rights
  • Aboriginal Australians Government policy
  • Referendum Australia

For more assistance, talk with staff at the Library's Information Desk or Ask Us.

Websites

2017 First Nations National Constitutional Convention. Uluru statement from the heart. Statement prepared by delegates. (Follow the continuing campaign on the Uluru Statement website.)

Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. Recommendations on constitutional recognition, 2000.

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Constitutional recognition page

Website of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Includes, Interim, Progress and Final reports, submissions to the inquiry, and media releases.

Recognise Campaign website and Facebook page

Reconciliation Australia. 2016 Federal Election Statement

Referendum Council. The Council is leading national consultations and community engagement on constitutional recognition.

A number of websites and Facebook groups present opinions on why the Recognise campaign is flawed and/or why they oppose such a referendum. Those seeking alternative opinions on the Recognise movement should seek out such sites, and evaluate their content. Whilst such websites have not been included here, these dissenting opinions are represented in some of the other resources listed on this page. 

Articles

The State Library has a number of electronic resources that are useful for finding articles relating to Aboriginal history.

Some of these resources can only be accessed within the library and others can also be accessed from home by becoming a Home Access User.

Behrendt, Larissa. 'Indigenous recognition: the concerns of those opposed must be taken seriously' from The Guardian Australia (online) 25 September 2014. (This article is a response to Liddle, below)

Liddle, Celeste. ‘I don't want your Recognise campaign – it's nothing but a sham’ from The Guardian Australia, (online) 18 August 2014.

McQuire, Amy. ‘Recognising the truth about Treaty through a storm of Constitutional spin’ from New Matilda, (online) 4 May 2016.

Morris, Shireen. 'The torment of our powerlessness': Addressing indigenous constitutional vulnerability through the Uluru statement's call for a first nations voice in their affairs' from University of New South Wales Law Journal (via eResources) vol 41, no 3. 2018. 

Pearson, Luke. ‘Treaty vs Recognition – the importance of self-determination’ from IndigenousX, (online) August 2015.

Pholi, Kerryn. ‘Recognise what?’ from The Spectator Australia, (and online) 28 June 2014.

Salter, Frank. ‘Indigenous Recognition’s misguided case' from Quadrant, 2012-2014. Part IPart II – Part III (hard copy or via eResources only)

Further relevant resources can be found via:

Academic search complete General periodical index

Australian/New Zealand Reference centre  Newspaper and magazine articles from the recent past.

Australian Public Affairs Full Text General periodical index

eLibrary Australasia Newspaper and magazine articles from the recent past.