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Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians


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Public opinion is now overwhelmingly in favour of the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia’s Constitution. What would be the symbolic and practical implications of such a change and who is leading the push for a referendum?

Join us for an exploration of the history – and potential legal, social and philosophical impacts – of constitutional change. How was our Constitution drafted, and how did Indigenous Australians come to be excluded at the birth of Australia’s federation? Why do discriminatory racial references remain in our Constitution, even after amendments to the document were carried in 1967?

Question Time hands the discussion to you for a full hour of Q&A with our expert panellists. Unpack the laws and philosophies that have come to bear on the autonomy and acknowledgement of Indigenous Australians from terra nullius, protectionism and forced assimilation to land rights, self-determination and potentially imminent constitutional recognition.


Madeleine Morris

Madeleine Morris is a Melbourne-based reporter for ABC television’s 7.30. She was formerly a presenter for the BBC in London and reported from dozens of countries before returning to her native Australia. She is the author of Guilt-Free Bottle-Feeding: Why Your Formula-Fed Baby Can Grow ... Read more

Patricia Turner

An Arrernte and Gurdanji woman, Patricia Turner has 40 years experience working primarily in Aboriginal affairs at the local, regional and national levels. She has had a long and varied career in the Australian Public Service, with senior roles including CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islan... Read more

Jill Gallagher

Jill Gallagher AO is a Gunditjmara woman from Western Victoria who has worked within, led and advocated for the Victorian Aboriginal community all her life.  Since 1998 this has been through the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), now one of Australia’s lar... Read more

Frank Brennan

Frank Brennan is a Jesuit priest, professor of law at the Australian Catholic University, and adjunct professor at the College of Law and the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University. Brennan has been actively committed to Indigenous reconciliation, justice and re... Read more

George Williams

George Williams AO is the Anthony Mason Professor and a Scientia Professor, as well as a Deputy Vice Chancellor, at UNSW. He was a member of the Australian government’s Constitutional Expert Group that advised on the wording of the Voice referendum and is an author with Megan Davis of Everything Y... Read more


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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.