A referendum on October 14 for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians to be recognised was voted by a 60% ‘No’ by the voters in the parliament.
The defeat was a blow to the hard fighting struggle of the indigenous advocates for recognition of their lives in the constitution and nation against discrimination, for better healthcare facilities and economic outcomes.
In the modern Australia the First nations people have been fighting for reconciliation and recognition since ages.
There is an eight-year gap in life expectancy for Indigenous Australians compared with non-Indigenous Australians, a suicide rate twice the national average, and comparatively poorer outcomes for health, education and infant mortality. The proposal to create an advisory body through legislation was designed to enshrine their existence in the constitution so it could not be removed by the future governments.
The vote occurred 235 years on from British settlement, 61 years after Aboriginal Australians were granted the right to vote, and 15 years since a landmark prime ministerial apology for harm caused by decades of government policies including the forced removal of children from Indigenous families. The referendum had been a key promise that the Labor party took to the federal election in 2022, when it returned to power after years of conservative rule.
The concept for the advisory body, which would have included Indigenous representatives from each of Australia’s six states and two territories voted in by their local Indigenous electors, was developed and endorsed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in 2017. It was envisaged to provide Australia’s government with non-binding advice on issues affecting about 4% of the population who identify as Indigenous.