Public Support for Indigenous Recognition Surges
10 November 2015 at 11:04 am
Almost 80 per cent of Australians are in favour of changing the country’s constitution to formally recognise Indigenous Australians.
Polling data commissioned and released by Recognise, the main organisation behind the push for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, found that 79 per cent of non-indigenous Australians supported the move.
The figure is only slightly lower than the 85 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians that said they supported a change to the founding document.
A total of 3,700 people were surveyed as part of the research, with a larger non-indigenous sample size used to reflect the demographics of the Australian community.
The survey found awareness of the proposal for constitutional recognition rose to 63 per cent from 37 per cent just five months earlier.
Joint Campaign Director of Recognise, Tanya Hosch, said the findings were encouraging.
“It’s encouraging to see this rise in awareness coupled with ongoing high levels of support. So, as millions of Australians become aware of this issue, a big majority of them are supportive,” Hosch said.
“We believe this rise in support was in part due to the widespread media attention when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives met the then Prime Minister and Opposition Leader in Sydney in July.”
Hosch urged political leaders to take advantage of the growing awareness and support and take the next steps towards a referendum in 2017.
“This surge of awareness and support can’t be taken for granted. The Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader must urgently reach agreement on the composition of the Referendum Council so the next big step towards a model and a referendum can be taken,” she said.
“Our Constitution is the nation’s highest legal document. It needs to be fixed – to recognise the First Australians and deal with race discrimination. It’s heartening to see these high levels of support for this nation building work from the Australian community.”
Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert urged the government to get behind the wave of support.
“The Government should move to immediately resource Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples conventions,” Senator Siewert said.
“It is very important that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the opportunity to decide how they would like to see recognition in the Constitution. It is essential that any changes to the Constitution have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples support.
“It also remains important that Malcolm Turnbull put these conventions, as well as Constitutional Recognition more broadly, back in the national spotlight. We do not want awareness for the campaign to slump.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten held a conference call last week with Indigenous leaders to discuss the reform.
Since May 2013, at Federation Square in Melbourne the Journey to Recognition has been relaying across the country. pic.twitter.com/HZdLvf0VX0
— RECOGNISE (@RecogniseAU) November 5, 2015