Aussies to Vote on Recognizing Aborigines

Gillard plans referendum on changing constitution
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2010 6:05 AM CST
Aussies to Vote on Recognizing Aborigines
Aborigines protest on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra.   (AP Photo/Mark Graham)

Australia is planning a referendum on whether to officially recognize indigenous people in the country's constitution for the first time. Prime Minister Julia Gillard described the move as a "once-in-50-year opportunity" to heal the government's relationship with Aborigines and improve their living conditions, the BBC reports.

"This will be a long, hard journey but it's the journey that will mark our maturity as a nation," Aboriginal leader Mick Gooda said, noting that the country had "lost momentum" after its historic apology to Aborigines in 2008. One prominent indigenous activist, however, dismissed the move as a political ploy from an unpopular government. "If white Australia wanted to make a genuine attempt at incorporating our true history into the constitution and reflecting some sort of genuine apology to Aboriginal Australians, then I'd say yes," he told AAP. (Read more Australia stories.)

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