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Indigenous recognition on special day


Indigenous recognition on special day

ABORIGINAL leader Mick Gooda hopes an Act of Recognition of indigenous people will pass parliament's lower house on the fifth anniversary of the apology to the stolen generations.


Debate on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill 2012 will resume in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.


In September, the federal government shelved plans to hold a referendum on the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal people because of a lack of public awareness on the issue.


Instead, it has introduced to parliament an Act of Recognition as a stepping stone towards constitutional change.


Mr Gooda, the Aboriginal social justice commissioner, hopes the bill will pass without opposition on what is a day of great significance - the fifth anniversary of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology to members of the stolen generation.


"Unanimous support for the act would be a demonstration of goodwill and commitment from all parties to furthering progress towards a referendum," Mr Gooda said in a statement.


Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said the bill was a significant first step to recognising Aboriginal people as the continent's first inhabitants.


But there still was a long road ahead to build momentum towards constitutional change.


"We need a widespread campaign across the community," Ms Macklin told Sky News.


The next parliament would have to continue the job in two years' time, she said.


"The message from indigenous people is that we want a referendum, when we will get a resounding yes."


Recognise spokeswoman Tanya Hosch says it is time to fix the long silence by amending Australia's founding document.


"When people look at our constitution, and see that it basically pretends that nothing happened before federation and that no one was here for tens of thousands of years, they will want to put that right," she said in a statement.


Jody Broun, spokeswoman for the National Congress of Australia's First People, said now the bill has passed the "hard yards" on constitutional reform would begin.


"Any process from here on in must ensure full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people," she said.

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