Target: Australia’s House of Representatives
Goal: Applaud decision to recognize Australian Aborigines in the country’s constitution
Australia’s House of Representatives has unanimously passed a bill that will set up a referendum on adding wording to the Australian Constitution that would officially recognize that the Aborigines were the first to inhabit the island and that the state has an obligation to ensure their advancement. A move described as “long overdue,” because Australia’s constitution conspicuously lacks a reference to the indigenous people of Australia, the bill received bi-partisan, unanimous support from the legislators.
Australian Aborigines, who were the first people to migrate to Australia over 40,000 years ago, have historically been oppressed and discriminated against by the Australian government. Five years ago, Kevin Rudd, former Australian Prime Minister, finally officially apologized for discriminatory and inhumane government programs intended to force Aborigines to assimilate into white Australian culture. The most notable example of this is that of the “Stolen Generations,” which refers to the kidnapping of Aboriginal children to be kept in government and church schools meant to Christianize and Westernize them. This practice continued into the 1970s.
Today, although Aborigines have been given the right to vote and other explicit political rights, the Constitution still does not explicitly recognize the truth of the matter – that they were in Australia before European settlers arrived in the 1700s, and that they are entitled to special rights and protections because of their displacement and oppression.
The campaign to introduce wording in the Constitution to achieve this recognition has been ongoing for years. The Australian House of Representatives’ passage of this bill to move forward with a constitutional referendum to do just that has been greeted positively by Aboriginal activists and their allies.
Sign the petition below to support the legislature’s actions and advocate for the recognition of Australian Aborigines in the country’s constitution.
Dear members of the Australian House of Representatives,
I am writing to praise your recent passage of a bill to move toward constitutional recognition of Australia’s indigenous people. I, like many of you, believe this move was long overdue. Aboriginal rights in Australia have advanced slowly, but it is always better late than never to do the right thing.
I am adding my voice to those of the Aboriginal activists, and their Australian and international allies, who support full rights and recognition for the indigenous people of Australia.
In passing this bill, you have done the right thing, and that is something to be proud of. Thank you.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: mingzhuxia via Flickr