The Australian Government is committed to holding a national referendum on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and has appointed an expert panel to explore options for constitutional reform.
The 1967 referendum was seen as a positive step towards recognising the rights and equal status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. However, over 40 years later, it is clear that this constitutional reform did not provide adequate protection against racial discrimination or guarantee equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
PIAC’s submission to the Government’s expert panel reflects on discriminatory laws, practices and policies that have contributed to and compounded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. The submission examines the legal landscape in Australia in relation to the interpretation of the ‘races power’ section 51(xxvi) of the Constitution. The submission also considers why the Constitution does not provide adequate protection against racial discrimination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Drawing on Australia’s international human rights law obligations and the experience of other comparable jurisdictions, this submission recommends a number of constitutional reform measures. These reforms are aimed at achieving equality for, and ending discrimination against, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.