Today we announce the establishment of the Referendum Council on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Referendum Council will advise us on progress and next steps towards a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution.
Professor Patrick Dodson and Mr Mark Leibler AC will be the Co-Chairs of the Referendum Council.
Professor Dodson and Mr Leibler were the Co-Chairs of the former Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.
The other members of the Referendum Council are: Ms Pat Anderson AO; Professor Megan Davis; Mr Andrew Demetriou; Mr Murray Gleeson AC QC; Mr Mick Gooda; Ms Tanya Hosch; Professor Kristina Keneally; Ms Jane McAloon; Mr Michael Rose; Ms Natasha Stott Despoja AM; Mr Noel Pearson; Ms Amanda Vanstone; Ms Dalassa Yorkston and Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM.
The Referendum Council is an eminent group and will guide an important national discussion about recognition. The engagement process will employ digital and traditional means so that all Australians can have their say on recognition.
Given the vital role of First Australians in this national conversation the consultations will include a concurrent series of Indigenous-designed and led consultations.
This referendum is important for all Australians and we recognise this by our firm bipartisan commitment.
Constitutional recognition cannot solve every challenge in improving opportunities and outcomes for Indigenous Australians but it will be a significant step forward.
Acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution can be a clear statement that Indigenous people can share in every opportunity this great country has to offer, as well as being proud of who they are as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Referendum Council and the national consultations were announced by the former Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, and the Leader of the Opposition on 6 July 2015 following a meeting with Indigenous leaders at Kirribilli. The former Prime Minister subsequently agreed to a concurrent series of Indigenous-designed and led consultations within the national process.