Constitutional Change and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

This is a selection of resources for people interested in the topic of constitutional change relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and particularly the proposal to hold a referendum by 2013.

BACKGROUND

The Australian Constitution 

Factsheets containing a guide to the Australian Constitution and the constitutional position of Indigenous people (2000).
Published  by Melbourne Law School Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies.

Overview of the referendum process and a history of previous referendums and results (2011).
Published by the Australian Electoral Commission .

Agreement by Australian Greens to support a minority Labor Government in return for a commitment to hold a referendum on recognising Indigenous people in the Constitution (September 2010).

Agreement by Andrew Wilkie MP to support a minority Labor Government in return for a commitment to hold a referendum on recognising Indigenous people in the Constitution (September 2010).

EXPERT PANEL

Report by the Expert Panel on Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution (January 2012).
Handed to the Prime Minister on 19 January 2012.

Factsheets on the constitutional recognition of Indigenous people, the terms of reference of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians, and communiqués of the Expert Panel (2010-2011).
Published by Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Website of Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians, appointed by Commonwealth Government to consult and develop options for constitutional reform.

A guide to the issues concerning constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians (2011).
Published by the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Discussion Paper outlining the importance and challenges of constitutional recognition of Indigenous people and possible constitutional amendments (May 2011).
Published by the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Submissions received by the Expert Panel as part of its community consultations (2011). 

Video gallery of individuals talking about constitutional recognition of Indigenous people (2011). 

PARLIAMENTARY SOURCES

Roundtable Discussion Report includes  previous changes to the Constitution, current constitutional provisions of particular relevance to Indigenous people, and possible amendments to recognise the special position of Indigenous people (June 2008).
Report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (‘Reforming our Constitution: A Roundtable Discussion’).

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTIONS

Some items include non-Indigenous co-authors.

Opinion piece on constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians as a means of achieving symbolic progress and protecting rights.
Written by Patrick Dodson (The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 November 2010).

Opinion piece on the importance of constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians and the necessary ingredients for a successful referendum.
Written by Patrick Dodson and Sarah Maddison (The Australian, 10 November 2010).

Opinion piece on the importance of a visionary preamble and a rights-based Constitution for Indigenous Australians.
Written by Richard Frankland and Peter Lewis (The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 December 2010).

Speech by Mick Gooda on why constitutional reform is important and how to achieve a successful referendum.
Delivered as part of the Eidos Institute Event Series, State Library of Queensland (23 February 2011).

Opinion piece on the importance of constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians.
Written by Mick Gooda (The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 July 2010).

Opinion piece on the importance of constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as Australia’s indigenous peoples.
Written by Noel Pearson (The Australian, 26 January 2011).

Speech by Noel Pearson on essence of constitutional amendment to reconciliation.
Delivered at Sydney Festival (13 January 2010).

Opinion piece on the importance of linking constitutional reform with economic reform to achieve progress for Indigenous Australians.
Written by Galarrwuy Yunupingu (The Australian, 5 June 2010).

Speech by Galarrwuy Yunupingu on the need to reform the Constitution beyond the preamble.
Delivered at University of Melbourne Law School (26 October 2007).

INDIGENOUS AND NON-INDIGENOUS ACADEMIC SOURCES

Article reflecting on the progress achieved in the 1967 referendum and the need for further reform.
Written by Larissa Behrendt (Australian Indigenous Law Review, Vol. 11, Special Edition, 2007).

Speech by Larissa Behrendt on the shortcomings of the Constitution in protecting Indigenous rights and the importance of both legal and policy reform to progressing Indigenous rights.
Delivered at the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW Justice Awards, NSW Parliament House (13 October 2003).

Paper by Larissa Behrendt on constitutional reforms as a means of rectifying the historic exclusion of Indigenous Australians from rights protection.
Delivered at the ACORN Symposium: Constitutions and Human Rights in a Global Age – An Asia Pacific Perspective, Canberra 1–3 December 2001.

Article about adopting a holistic approach to the protection of Indigenous rights, encompassing both legal reform to the Constitution and economic reforms (2001).
Written by Larissa Behrendt (University of NSW Law Journal, Vol. 24, No. 3).

Opinion piece about the need to dispel myths concerning a non-discrimination clause and the Panel’s recommendations to government for constitutional change (17 February 2012).
Written by Sean Brennan and published in the Age

Article about the relationship between constitutional change and land justice (November 2011).
Written by Sean Brennan and published in the AIATSIS Native Title Issues Paper series.

Submission on a package of proposals to amend the Constitution at a referendum in 2013 (30 September 2011)
Centre submission by Sean Brennan to the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Opinion piece about the rare chance for positive constitutional change regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, brought about by the inconclusive result of the 2010 election and the commitment to hold a referendum by 2013 (12 August 2011).
Written by Sean Brennan and published in Lawyers Weekly.

Submission on Indigenous legal issues and the utility of national statutory charter of human rights (15 June 2009).
Submission from Sean Brennan to the National Human Rights Consultation Committee.

Opinion piece about John Howard’s proposal for a constitutional preamble acknowledging Indigenous people (October 2007).
Written by Sean Brennan and published in Online Opinion.

Research brief discussing the options for amendment to the Constitution concerning Indigenous people (2011).
Written by Megan Davis and Dylan Lino (Indigenous Law Centre Research Brief No. 3).

Research brief examining the history of constitutional development relating to Indigenous people since Federation and outlining the proposals for Indigenous-related constitutional reform (2010).
Written by Megan Davis and Dylan Lino (Indigenous Law Centre Research Brief No. 2).

Article containing a timeline of constitutional developments relating to Indigenous people and an outline of contemporary reform proposals (2010).
Written by Megan Davis and Dylan Lino (Indigenous Law Bulletin, Vol. 7, Issue 19).

Article making the case for constitutional recognition of Indigenous people (2008)
Written by Megan Davis (Indigenous Law Bulletin, Vol. 7, Issue 6).

Lecture by Mick Dodson on the three elements of a successful referendum – recognition, identity and citizenship (2011).
Delivered as part of the Senate Occasional Lecture Series (5 August 2011).

Speech by Mick Dodson on the continuing relevance of the Constitution for Indigenous people.
Delivered at the National Archives of Australia, Canberra (13 July 2008).

Article on the importance of approaching Indigenous issues within the framework of addressing the structural relationship between Indigenous peoples and the state (2001).
Written by Mick Dodson and Lisa Strelein (University of NSW Law Journal, Vol. 24, No. 3).

Paper presented at the Law Council of Australia Discussion Forum on Constitutional Change examining previous referendums concerning Indigenous people and proposals for recognising Indigenous people in the Constitution (2011).
Written by former High Court Justice, the Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG (‘Constitutional Law and Indigenous Australians: Challenge for a Parched Continent’).

Article on why constitutional change is necessary to recognise Australia’s first people (2011).
Written by Marcia Langton (Voice, Vol. 7, No. 7, July 2011).

Lecture by Marcia Langton arguing for constitutional reform to prevent legitimation of racist action taken against Indigenous people, acknowledge Aboriginal polities and support agreement-making (2001).
Delivered as part of the Alfred Deakin Lecture Series, Capitol Theatre (20 May 2001).

Podcast by Sarah Maddison on the structural changes, including constitutional reform, required to address the current representational arrangements for Indigenous Australians (25 February 2011).
Presented at Sydney Democracy Initiative, Sydney University.

Compendium of provisions in constitutions around the world dealing with Indigenous peoples provided to the Law Council of Australia Discussion Forum on Constitutional Change (2011).
Written by Brad Morse, Dean of Waikato Law School.

Report on the constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians in a preamble (2011).
Written by Anne Twomey, Director of Constitutional Reform Unit, Sydney Law School (Report No. 2, 2011) .

Article on options for reform and the challenges of succeeding at a referendum (September 2011).
Written by George Williams (AIATSIS Land, Rights, Laws: Issues of Native Title, Vol 5, Issues Paper 1).

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS

Discussion Paper setting out options for constitutional reform to provide recognition to and secure enforceable rights for Indigenous people (April 2011).
Published by the Law Council of Australia.

Factsheet providing a summary of the referendum process, the benefits of constitutional recognition of Indigenous people, and historical lessons for a successful referendum (2011).
Published by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Report on the significance of constitutional recognition of Indigenous people and the steps for ensuring a successful referendum (2011).
Published by the Australian Human Rights Commission (‘Constitutional Reform: Creating a Nation for All of Us’).

Report on the process of Aboriginal reconciliation including how constitutional recognition of Indigenous people furthers progress on rights-based reconciliation (November 2010).
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (‘Are We There Yet? Ten Years on from the Decade of Reconciliation: A Reconciliation Progress Report’) .

Website about developments in the discussion of Constitutional Recognition.
Published by Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR).

OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS AND COMMENT

Transcript of discussion forum on constitutional change, examining the scope for symbolic recognition and substantive reform of the Constitution for Indigenous Australians (July 2011).
Discussion forum hosted by Law Council of Australia (‘Constitutional Change: Recognition or Substantive Rights?’).

Video of a panel discussion on the importance of constitutional reform in providing formal recognition of Indigenous people, the process required, the possibilities for change and the chances of success (17 March 2011).
Hosted by Indigenous Law Centre, UNSW. Panel members: Megan Davis (Professor and ILC Director), Mick Gooda (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner), George Williams (Anthony Mason Professor, UNSW Faculty of Law), Les Malezer (co-Chair of National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples), Paul Kildea (Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law Research Fellow) and April Long (Editor of Indigenous Law Bulletin).

Opinion pieces from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal authorsoffering four perspectives on constitutional recognition of Indigenous people (December 2010).
Written by Helen Irving, Bev Manton, Judith Dwyer and Patrick Dodson (The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 December 2010).

Audio of Panel Session on Australian Constitutional Futures, from the 2009 Constitutional Law Conference held by the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law (20 February 2009).
Compered by ABC Radio’s Damien Carrick, the panel includes the Hon Ian Callinan, Mark Dreyfus QC MP, Professor Helen Irving and Gilbert + Tobin Centre Project Director Sean Brennan.