Amnesty International welcomes the opportunity to provide this submission on a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Australian Constitution.
The Australian Constitution in its current form retains discriminatory clauses which are sources of concern to Australian people and inconsistent with international human rights principles. The Australian Constitution must enshrine the rights of all Australian citizens and utilise language to this effect, including the removal of phrases and sections which run counter to this principle. The repeal of problematic “race” provisions from the Constitution and the inclusion of a new section expressly prohibiting discrimination on the bases of race would ensure the universal human right to be free from racial discrimination is enshrined in the Australian Constitution.
The constitutional reform process represents a critical moment for Australia. Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as the first peoples of Australia, alongside acknowledgement of continuing Indigenous cultures, languages and connections to land, may represent an opportunity to bring the Australian Constitution into greater alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.