Would you vote 'yes' or 'no' to constitutional recognition of indigenous Australian?

Latest polls reveal an overwhelming majority of Australian citizens support a change to the nation’s constitution, formally recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Prime Minister Tony Abbott favours holding a referendum in 2017, on the 50th anniversary of the successful 1967 vote which removed a number of discriminatory references.

The Eden Magnet hit the streets to ask locals if they would vote 'yes' or 'no' to constitutional recognition of indigenous Australian, and found the response was consistent with the Australian majority.

Tyrone Thomas, Eden

Yes. I’m Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and I reckon it should be fair fair. 

I’m not one-sided, it’s just about equal rights. If our culture goes back thousands of years, how can the constitution not recognise us? 

My nan got kicked out of her bus seat and forced to stand in the aisle, and I’ve experienced racism too. I reckon a “yes” vote would help get rid of that.

Jayden Erichsen, Eden

Yes. I think it should be equal rights for all Australians. Everyone in our community seems to get along. 

I’m 17 years old, and I haven’t seen much racism in my school or in our community, and I wouldn’t associate with people like that. 

My friends don’t divide up people who are ‘white’ or ‘black’. 

Steve Goodchild, Mirador

Yes. I’ll be voting the same as I did in the 1967 referendum. 

There was a 91.2 per cent vote in favour in that referendum and it went through no problems. 

One of the constitutional changes in that vote was simply allowing Aboriginal people to enter hotels. 

Our constitution should have all Australians in the wording, without segregation.

Wayne Tuckfield, Merimbula

Yes. We all have the same needs. 

We all eat, we all want to be loved and cared about. 

It’s a pretty simple formula really. 

I think it’s sad to see what the government is trying to do right now, withdrawing funding from isolated indigenous communities. 

Carmel Smith, Merimbula

Yes. It’s amazing how many people are still racist. I’m from the Wiradjuri people, of the Riverina area in western NSW. 

I’m not dark skinned so I hear awful comments and I feel like saying “you don’t know who you are standing next to”. 

People ask me how I can be indigenous when I’m white. I feel like saying that if it wasn’t for the rape and pillage, I would be black.  

Although I don’t think the referendum will do much to stop racism, it might soften it. 

Liz Lenehan, Eden, and Pat Cullen, Sydney

Yes. It would be nice if Australia came on line with other countries, and live in this century rather than the last century. 

Most countries have already acknowledged their indigenous peoples, and New Zealand is a great example to follow where there is a genuine cultural respect for the Maoris. 

This referendum and the “yes” vote is inevitable, so they should just get it done, move it off the agenda, and let us move on.

David Chazan, Eden

Yes. Laws and ideas are expressions of intent, and pen and paper is a good way to record intent. 

But writing things down isn’t the most important thing, it’s feeling it in the heart. 

That would be the most significant change.


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