What is the campaign?
The Recognise program is a movement which advocates for improved constitutional recognition of Australia’s first people and for elimination of racially discriminating policies.
The current Australian government has begun the reconciliation process through the 1967 referendum, which was updated to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as Australian citizens. However, this did not complete the task of securing equality, and two sections of the Constitution still permit racial discrimination by government. Furthermore, the Australian Constitution does not recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as Australia’s first peoples.
As constitutional scholars have noted, Australia is now the only democratic nation in the world with a Constitution that still authorises race discrimination.
What is proposed?
It is recommended that Australians should vote in a referendum to:
- Remove Section 25 – which contemplates States banning people from voting based on their race;
- Remove section 51(xxvi) – which can be used to pass laws that discriminate against people based on their race;
- Insert a new section 51A – to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to preserve the Australian Government’s ability to pass laws for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
- Insert a new section 116A, banning racial discrimination by government; and
- Insert a new section 127A, recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages were this country’s first tongues, while confirming that English is Australia’s national language.
Uniting Church involvement
“In 2015, the 14th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia agreed to support Constitutional Recognition as a “step towards and not a blockage to the larger issues of sovereignty and treaty.” The 14th Assembly also committed to work with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress to “educate members of the Church about the need for a treaty” and to highlight issues faced by First Peoples.”
Media Statement by Stuart McMillan, President, Uniting Church in Australia Assembly 17th March 2016
The Uniting Church in South Australia are supporters of the National Recognise Campaign. We encourage the Australian Government to speed up the referendum to recognise first people. We advocate for the removal of racially discriminating policies and for the acknowledgement of the rich history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people which occurred prior to British arrival.
We acknowledge the limitations of the Recognise campaign, with an understanding that constitutional recognition is not the end of the reconciliation process. The Uniting Church commits to continued support and prayer for a genuine partnership between Indigenous people and the government through the making of a treaty.
You can learn more and show your support for the Recognise Campaign by visiting their website.
Learn more about the call for a Treaty with Australia’s indigenous people>