Senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander figures will gather in Lawson to discuss the campaign for constitutional reform on Saturday, April 30.
The NSW Reconciliation Council (NSWRC) event, Defining your future: a conversation about constitutional recognition, treaty and sovereignty, will discuss the current movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s Constitution.
The first Aboriginal person elected to NSW Parliament, Linda Burney, will be joined on stage by barrister Tim Goodwin, youth activist Clark Donovan, and Aboriginal affairs expert Jody Broun.
“The recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s Constitution is one of the most significant issues facing Aboriginal communities across the country,” said NSWRC Director Gilly Dempsey.
“While there is significant support for constitutional recognition as a means of addressing racial discrimination in our country, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have legitimate concerns about the constitutional reform agenda.”
Ms Demspey said she hoped the event would provide members of the Blue Mountains community with some clarity about the key issues at stake in the current debate.
“We know that people have a lot of questions that they want answered before they make a final decision as to whether they will support constitutional reform in a referendum or not. What this forum will do is provide local people with the opportunity to have those questions answered honestly and openly by experts in the field.”
The current campaign for constitutional reform aims to pass a series of changes based on recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and removal of sections of the Constitution which currently allow for discrimination on the basis of race. While the precise wording of the proposed measures has yet to be released, the government has previously signaled its intention to hold a referendum on any proposed reforms in May 2017.
Ms Dempsey warned that any constitutional reform must reflect the priorities and concerns of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“The proper amendment of Australia’s Constitution to remove racist clauses and include an acknowledgement of the country’s First Peoples would be a significant step forward in Australia’s history,” she said.
“However, any changes must be informed by the diverse voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The NSW Reconciliation Council is providing a forum in the Blue Mountains where those voices can make themselves heard.”
The event will be held at the Mid-Mountains Neighbourhood Centre with a panel discussion taking place from 12-1pm and a group discussion from 1-2.30pm.