WHEN the Australian Constitution was drafted in the 1890s, Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders did not participate and were not formally recognised.
However, this could soon change with the Federal Government investigating the option of changing the constitution to formally recognise Indigenous Australians.
To gather community input, the federal government assembled a panel of 20 indigenous and non-indigenous experts to travel around the country holding public consultations – one of which was held in Grafton on Monday night.
The Member for Page, Janelle Saffin and fellow panellists, Aboriginal designer Alison Page and Independent Member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott, hosted Monday night’s meeting. It included a round-table discussion with local aboriginal elders and a public forum.
Ms Saffin said about 60 people took part in the forum and she found it pleasing to see a broad cross-section of the community there.
The general feeling from the public during the meeting had been in favour of constitutional recognition, she said and the panel had received valuable input about how best to make the change.
To be successful, the move to recognise Indigenous Australians in the constitution would have to succeed in a national referendum and also have the support of the majority of states and territories.