Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Act of Recognition passes

Joint Media Release with:

  • Julia Gillard
    Prime Minister

Australia has moved closer towards constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with the Act of Recognition passing the House of Representatives today.

The Prime Minister was joined in the House by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and community leaders to mark this significant step towards a referendum.

The Bill recognises the unique and special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This reflects wording suggested by the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whose significant report has put in place the foundations to enable us to progress constitutional recognition.

Today also marks the fifth anniversary of the National Apology.

On 13 February 2008, we said sorry to Indigenous Australians, in particular the Stolen Generations, for past wrongs.

We apologised for the pain and suffering and hurt that successive policies had inflicted on Indigenous Australians for more than two centuries.

This was the first step in building a reconciled Australia with relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.

The recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution is another part of this journey.

This Australian Government is committed to meaningful constitutional reform that reflects the hopes and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Bill passed today includes a sunset date of two years to allow the campaign for change to continue to build momentum and ensure the focus remains on the ultimate goal of a successful referendum.

A review will be carried out 12 months after the Bill is enacted to consider levels of community support for amending the Constitution and proposals for constitutional change.

The Gillard Government has committed $10 million towards a campaign being led by Reconciliation Australia to continue to build support for constitutional change.

The Government agrees with the findings of the Expert Panel that a referendum should be held at a time when it has the most chance of success.

The Government encourages all Australians to get involved in building support for constitutional change by visiting