Recognition, education pride and hope were on the agenda when the Recognise movement rolled into the Eurobodalla on Wednesday.
About 30 gathered at Batemans Bay Community Centre to learn more about the Recognise movement, which aims to hold a referendum to reform the Australian Constitution to recognise Indigenous Australians.
As Recognise ambassador Mark Yettica-Paulson explained, awareness is an important first step.
“Many Australians don’t know we have a constitution,” he said.
“The parts of the constitution, which goes back to 1901, that we want to see change are one; that Government can make special laws for any race except Aborigines, and two, that state governments can ban races from voting in an election.”
Mr Yettica-Paulson said that many had opposed the Recognise push because they feared it precluded the chance of a treaty, but that this was not the case.
“This will not stop the push for a treaty; we can still pursue this and other things such as changing fisheries laws,” he said.
He said that Indigenous Australians could take heart from the fact that nine out of every 10 Australians voted to count Aborigines as part of the Australian population in the 1967 referendum.
“We need to keep the momentum going to make change because Australia will get behind us,” he said.
He said that Recognise hoped the referendum would be held in 2017.
Colin Davis, a member of the Eurobodalla Indigenous community, is excited about Recognise.
“I can now believe there is hope for our people,” he said.
“Now we have the chance to spread the word on the street that there is hope.
“All humans are equal and we have to get that back.”
However, Reverend Tom Slockee is not as convinced that this constitutional change would improve things for Indigenous people.
“We have had agreements and promises in the past and nothing has really changed; Indigenous people have never felt any benefit; the community has never prospered,” he said.
“What will change things is people changing their attitude, which can happen through education.”