NAIDOC Week is a great opportunity every year to recognise and understand the history and contributions of our indigenous Australians. This week is not about Black versus White but rather a celebration of the long history of those who have been Australian for tens of thousands of years.
This year is particularly poignant as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum to acknowledge Aborigines as citizens worthy of being counted in the census. The referendum was passed with a resounding 90.77% of the voting population voting “YES”. This was an important watershed for our nation, as we came to terms with the past and looked to the future.
Fifty years on, it’s clear that the absolute clarity of purpose of the 1967 referendum was a large contributor to its success. We now find ourselves debating the benefits of constitutional recognition of the first Australians, a measure that is important and right, yet to date, we have not clarified what this will look like. Most referenda fail and I think a great deal can be learned from the resounding success of the 1967 referendum.