It’s Reconciliation Week from 27 May – 3 June 2013 and this year’s theme is Let’s Talk Recognition. In the spirit of ‘talking’, I found this great website that is chock full of interesting facts and perspectives from Indigenous Australians. Some of these that stood out for me are:
- Over 3 in 4 Indigenous Australians did not survive colonisation.
- There were approximately 270 Indigenous languages prior to European settlement – only 18 strong languages (spoken by all age groups) remain in use today.
- In 1962, Indigenous Australians were given the right to vote. However, it remained illegal to encourage Indigenous people to enrol to vote. In fact, our Constitution still gives the States the right to ban people from voting based on race. Honestly.
- In 1967, more than 90% of Australian voters said YES, Indigenous people should be counted in the national census of the population.
- It was not until 1993 that the High Court overturned the notion of terra nullius (that the Australian land belonged to no one when Europeans arrived in 1788).
- In 2007, Prime Minister John Howard announced the dramatic intervention into the Northern Territory Aboriginal communities, giving the Government power to:
- Ban all alcohol
- Acquire Aboriginal land and communities for up to five years
- Hold back 50% of welfare payments, to control spending by Indigenous people
- Suspend the permit system controlling access to Indigenous communities
- Remove customary law and traditional cultural practice from criminal sentencing
Despite widespread criticism, the current policy version, Stronger Futures, passed on June 2012.
- In 2009, Australia agreed to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Previously, Australia had been one of only four nations to oppose the Declaration.
- In February 2013, the Act of Recognition Bill was passed – the first step towards a Referendum to recognise Indigenous Australians in our country’s constitution.
That’s right, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still excluded from our founding document.
Head to the Recognise website to declare your support to acknowledge Indigenous peoples in Australia’s Constitution. Surely it will be a 100% YES outcome in 2 years time?