The Referendum Council have kicked off a consultation process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders on a path forward for constitutional recognition by hosting the first Regional Dialogue meeting in Hobart over the weekend of 9-11 December.
Craig Everett, a proud Musselroe Bay man opened the meeting in Risdon Cove. He welcomed around seventy people to country with a smoking ceremony and dance. The venue on country, outside of the city and in a bush setting, contributed to the effective running of the meeting. The food supplied was all planned by the nutritionist who plans and prepares meals for the kids at the childcare centre. People could go outside in the breaks, sit around the fire, smoke, chat and smell the bush.
Many of the concepts were new to people, who were seeing and having to think about them for the first time – but they did it.
Local community representatives Rodney Gibbons and Wendy Moore were the convenors of the initial First Nations Regional Dialogue in Australia. They successfully facilitated sessions that provided delegates with civics education including an overview of the Australian Consultation, a history of Indigenous advocacy for recognition and reform, and provided opportunities for everyone in the room to speak about what recognition means to them.
The five options for reform were discussed in detail over the course of the three days and there was unanimous agreement to a communique that recorded the outcomes of the meeting.
The communique affirmed the delegates’ views on each of the options for reform, including treaty, statement of acknowledgement, law making power, racial non-discrimination clause and voice to parliament. Five delegates, who were elected during the meeting, will represent the views of the Hobart dialogue at the National Indigenous Constitutional Convention to be held in Uluru in late April 2017.
The consultation process resumes in February, with meetings in Perth, Broome, Dubbo and Brisbane, followed by Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Darwin in March and Alice Springs and the Torres Strait in April.
If you would like to have you say on the options for reform, the Council is now calling for submissions. Alternatively you can get in touch with the Council via Twitter by using the hashtag #getthefullpicture