Recently the NSW Parliament moved to follow counterparts in Victoria and Queensland in reforming its Constitution to formally recognise and honour “the Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations,” and “as the traditional custodians and occupants of the land.”
Similarly, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has indicated that she will hold a referendum on whether to recognise Indigenous people in the federal Constitution, after an abortive attempt in 1999.
I welcome these moves as a symbolic turn toward justice after more than two centuries of largely ignoring past wrongs. Mr Rudd’s National Apology early in 2008 was another sign that Indigenous justice and reconciliation are regarded as more than theoretical niceties by the Australian people.
Yet the danger is that mere words will not be accompanied by courageous and costly and healing actions. Yes, we should change the NSW and Australian Constitutions. But that will only be the beginning of a new journey.
Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 19 September 2010. Image: Andrew Sheargold/Getty Images,