28 Mar 2015

73% of Australians believe that constitution should change to recognise Indigenous people, and remove clauses that discriminate on the basis of race

The vast majority of Australians believe that the constitution should be changed to recognise Indigenous people, and remove clauses that discriminate on the basis of race, a study by the Australian National University found.
The telephone survey of more than 1,200 people aimed to record public opinion on injustice and social disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders.
It found that 82% of Australians supported the removal of clauses in the constitution that discriminate on race.
And 73%, or nearly three out of four Australians believe that Indigenous Australians deserve special reference in the preamble of the founding document.
Tanya Hosch, the campaign director of Recognise, which advocates on the recognition of Indigenous Australians, said that “the strong levels of support from Australians reflect what we have heard in our own extensive community engagement across the country in the past few years.
“Australians want to fix this lack of recognition and want to fix the race discrimination in our highest legal document.”
The prime minister, Tony Abbott, has indicated that he would hold a referendum on the issue in 2017, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders being counted in the census.
“It’s important to get this right. Yes, we want to do it. But we want to get it right and it’s more important to get it right than to rush it,” Abbott told reporters on Friday.
“We’ve got the joint parliamentary committee, chaired by Ken Wyatt, deputy chaired by Nova Peris and that committee will be reporting in the next couple of months and that will give us a strong foundation on which to build.”
Constitutional recognition has strong bipartisan support.
Fewer than one in five Australians thought that Indigenous people were responsible for the problems faced by their own communities, the study found. Half of the respondents thought that problems faced by Indigenous people were a result of the attitudes of other citizens or government policies.

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