May 2013

On the road to recognition

Tanya Hosch, deputy campaign director for the growing movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s Constitution, explains why recognition and removing discrimination from our national rule book matters to every Australian.

BY Tanya Hosch

Not every generation gets this chance.

Before us lies an opportunity to bring about a great moment for our country. It will be the day when millions of Australians vote Yes to fix the long silence of our founding document about the first chapter of our nation’s story – and to remove sections of our Constitution that still allow discrimination based on race. History is calling us to make this happen.

This is a chance to unite Australians. It would bring us closer together than ever before, helping to bridge the separation that persists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. And it would encourage all Australians to feel even greater pride in the unique Indigenous cultures of this land, which are a part of our shared story and are the very foundation of Australia’s culture today.

It would also ensure that the values we proclaim as a nation – of fairness and equality – are better reflected in our Constitution. We need to remove, for instance, the section that still says the States can ban an entire race of people from voting.

But amending Australia’s Constitution is never easy – even with a proposition as just as this. That’s why we need Australians of great heart – people like you, who strive to put your faith into action every day – to get behind this movement.

More than 137,000 Australians have already joined the cause, and they are backed by political leaders from right across the party spectrum – with strong multi-party commitments. But we need to build an even bigger groundswell of public support before we can lock in a referendum date.

That’s where we need your help.

A massive relay from Melbourne to Nhulunbuy – and eventually to every State and Territory – begins on Sunday, with participants walking, cycling, driving and paddling their way north in support of the growing campaign for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Recognise, a part of Reconciliation Australia, has launched a campaign to keep building community support to ensure that a referendum can be held in the next two years to make recognition a reality.

As a major part of this campaign, the ‘Journey to Recognition’ will see campaigners hitting the road to build even more public support for the recognition quest. Inspired by Michael Long’s ‘The Long Walk’ in 2004, the relay teams will involve high-profile Australians but also everyday grassroots supporters of this people’s movement. And we will hold scores of community information meetings along the way and recruit many more Australians to this cause.

You can be part of this great moment in history.

The Journey to Recognition will be a massive logistical exercise involving tens of thousands of Australians and has the support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, politicians and other high-profile people and organisations.

Recognise is seeking people to participate in each stage of the journey. If you would like to get involved, you can find out more at You could start by making plans to come and join Michael Long at Federation Square in Melbourne at 9:30am on Sunday May 26 – when the former AFL legend will lead Australians as we take the first symbolic steps on the road to recognition.

And you can help by hosting events along the route that build support for recognition in local communities and workplaces, or by coming along to join the journey and speak to many other Australians about the importance of us all making this moment happen.

In 1967, another generation of Australians got a chance to do something that was just. Something that was right. Something that was decent.

That generation amended our Constitution so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could finally be counted as citizens in their own land.

Now we have a chance to finish the job that the great ’67 generation began.

It’s time to write us in.

It’s time to make our Constitution even more Australian.

Tanya Hosch

Tanya Hosch is Deputy Campaign Director for Recognise, the people's movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution. She was the driving force behind the creation of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, and a foundation director of the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre and the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute. She is a Torres Strait Islander woman who lives in Adelaide.

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