Social Issues

Australia’s Senate approves referendum on Indigenous rights

Sydney, Australia, June 19 (EFE).- Australia’s Senate on Monday approved the holding of a referendum on constitutional recognition of the country’s Indigenous people and the establishment of an Indigenous consultation body.

The upper house passed the “Indigenous Voice to Parliament” by 52 to 19, paving the way for the country’s first referendum in almost 24 years, which must be held between late August and the end of the year.

“Now the Australian people will have a chance to say yes. Together, we can make history by enshrining recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our constitution,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tweeted.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent 3.2 percent of the country’s population of 25 million.

The referendum, one of the Albanese’s electoral promises ahead of the May 2022 elections, proposes the creation of “the Voice”, an advisory body to the government and parliament that would give aboriginal people greater participation in decisions that affect them.

If approved in the referendum, the Voice will form part of a new chapter that will be included in the constitution, titled “Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.”

The members of the Voice will be elected by the local communities and make representations to the Australian government and parliament on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples while being subject to standard governance to ensure transparency.

According to a survey published at the beginning of the month by pollster, Resolve, 49 percent of Australians would vote in favor of the constitutional change while 51 percent would vote against it.

Another poll by Essential says 60 percent would vote “yes” as opposed to 40 percent who answer “no.”

Since the colonization of Australia, the aboriginal people have been mistreated, had their lands seized and faced systemic discrimination. EFE


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