Constitutional Recognition

Constitutional recognition is the move towards recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s founding document – our Constitution.

Currently, our Constitution doesn’t contain any references to the First People of Australia. They were not given a say in the convention debates of the 1890s during the drafting of the Constitution in 1901, and they were not able to vote on it.

Since then, many Australians have advocated for changes to the Constitution and much work has been done on what form recognition should take.

The Australian Government appointed an Expert Panel in 2011 and a Parliamentary Joint Select Committee completed its work in 2015.

On 7 December 2015, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition appointed a Referendum Council to consult widely throughout Australia and move towards achieving constitutional recognition of First Australians.

What’s happened since the Council was appointed?

Since its establishment, the Council has lead a national consultation on constitutional recognition with the Australian community. Twelve First Nations Regional Dialogues have been held across the country, culminating in a National Indigenous Constitutional Convention at Uluru on 24-26 May 2017.

The Council also held a digital consultation and invited all Australians to have their say on constitutional recognition. Submissions closed on 15 May 2017. You can read about the process and options for reform on the Council’s website.

These consultations formed the basis of the Council’s Final Report to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition on constitutional change, which was handed down on 30 June 2017. The Final Report is available on the Referendum Council website.

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More information on constitutional recognition and consultation activities is available on the Referendum Council’s website

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images and voices of deceased people.