Australia’s Indigenous Voice referendum
Why in news? Australian Voters rejected an opportunity to amend their constitution for the first time in almost 50 years towards a more inclusive ethos for its Indigenous population
- The idea of the referendum came from a historic 2017 summit of Indigenous peoples, which announced the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’ and called for a treaty between the Australian government and the indigenous community as well as a commission to promote “truth-telling about our history”.
Who are the ‘First Peoples of Australia’?
- The word ‘aboriginal’, refers to the indigenous inhabitants of the continent people who lived on the Australian mainland and surrounding islands for tens of thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived in the early 17th century.
What does the referendum seek to do, and why?
- Referendum seeks recognition of indigenous Australians in the country’s Constitution
- It seeks to propose the body called “Voice to Parliament” comprising members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people to set up for advising lawmakers on matters that impact their lives.
- The Aboriginals find no mention in Australia’s 122-year-old Constitution.
Australian government’s policies on indigenous people
- Laws and policies made by the colonial settlers over time contributed to the marginalisation of the indigenous communities, than their non-native counterparts on indicators like education and life expectancy.
- Legislation to improve the status of indigenous Australians has been introduced with granting Voting rights in 1962
- In 1992 Australia’s apex court decided that native title exists over particular kinds of lands like unalienated Crown Lands, national parks and reserves