ABORIGINAL people from across South Australia have been provided input into the State Government’s initiative to recognise Indigenous Australians as the First People of South Australia in the state constitution.
An advisory panel set up by the Government has sought the views on the South Australian community, particularly the Aboriginal community, on what form and wording the recognition in the constitution should take.
The panel had been covering the whole state over the past five weeks, visiting places including Port Augusta, the APY Lands, Port Lincoln and Ceduna.
The panel made their way to Ceduna on September 24, where they held two sessions at Ceduna Foreshore Hotel Motel, one held from 11.30am-4.30pm for Aboriginal people and one from 6.00pm-8.00pm, which was open for everyone.
People gave input on elements of the constitutional recognition including the suggested wording, whether the amendment should be in the form of a preamble in the introduction, a section in the constitution or a combination of both, and wether there should be a caveat section.
The panel is now working in Adelaide for targeted consultation and to prepare a report, which they will present to Premier Jay Weatherill on October 30.
Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement Khatija Thomas said it was great to receive input from people for this important event.
“It was great hearing people’s ideas and contributions from all the places we visited with our packed schedule,” she said.
“No other group in South Australia which holds this distinction, and it also gives more respect and recognition to Aboriginal people as a continuing and surviving culture.”
Currently Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales are the only states, which have amended their constitutions to recognise Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders.
The option is there for South Australia to amend its constitution to include the recognition in its preamble like Queensland, add a new section like New South Wales or a combination of both like Victoria.
One addition, which has proved to be popular in feedback, has been the addition of a caveat.
The panel suggests a caveat to the wording of the recognition statement will create a greater scope for Aboriginal people to have their wording adopted, as there will be less concern of legal consequences.
Opposing views of this move have included how even with this recognition, it won’t change important issues still affecting Aboriginal communities such as dependency on welfare, Government intervention and overall health concerns.
Ms Thomas said work on these issues is ongoing but this reform would bring lasting respect towards the Aboriginal culture in South Australia.
“Hard work on these important issues will continue, this amendment will have a neutral effect and won’t create or diminish any rights Aboriginal people already have,” she said.
“This amendment change would show respect for Aboriginal culture and I hope this reform would create renewed respect and acknowledgement of Aboriginal history and the history of our state.”
The deadline for anymore written submissions is October 15.
For more information, go to www.timeforrespect.org.au, or call on 1800 127 001.