May 29, 2012
The State Government’s decision to start the process to recognise Aboriginal peoples in the South Australian Constitution is a big step towards reconciliation and the recognition of First Australians, Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair Dr Tom Calma said today.
Dr Calma welcomed the Weatherill government’s decision to form a panel to provide advice on the language and placement of the recognition in the South Australian Constitution and said it would make a difference to the relationship between the State’s First peoples and other South Australians.
“South Australia is to be commended on leading the charge, demonstrating they understand the importance of recognition and allowing the history and cultures of Aboriginal people to be respected and recognised in the State’s founding document.
“Reconciliation and recognition go hand in hand. I know Aboriginal people in South Australian are very happy with this commitment and I agree that recognition is critical to moving the relationship forward. This act of respect sets the tone for working together in the future towards better outcomes for all South Australians.”
Welcoming the announcement at the start of National Reconciliation Week (May 27-June 3), Dr Calma said he hoped the SA commitment would encourage other States to follow suit.
“The process that South Australia has now committed to will bring it in line with Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales,” Dr Calma said.
“It is important that all states consider ways they can reform their own constitutions to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which will help bring about national change.”
The South Australian Government’s announcement took place as a record 500 events are underway nationally to mark National Reconciliation Week (see www.reconciliation.org.au/nrw).
Among many events still ahead to be held this week are:
- the Don Dunstan Foundation’s Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration by the Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG today in Adelaide,
- Bindjareb Pinjarra – improvised comedy about WA’s Pinjarra Massacre at the Seymour Centre Sydney, and
- The Townsville Reconciliation Festival (June2-3) to mark the 20th anniversary of the Mabo decision.