Remove racism: group

A GROUP of 35 central Victorians are keen to see “racist” sections of Australia’s constitution changed or deleted.At a community forum held in Bendigo on Monday, all attendees spoke in support of proposed changes to the Australia constitution to recognise indigenous people.Sections of the constitution that might be changed or deleted include section 25 which allows the federal government to accept state laws that disenfranchise racial groups and section 51 xxvi, which allows laws to be made for individual racial groups.The referendum will also consider more controversial proposals including an agreement or “treaty” making power, an indigenous rights provision and reserved seats in Parliament for Aboriginal people.A referendum to vote on the changes is expected to be conducted at the next election in 2013.Dja Dja Warrung Aboriginal Corporation chairman Graham Atkinson said it was important the constitution was brought up to date.“The constitution was made in 1901, missing from that process was input from Aboriginal people,” he said.“Aboriginal involvement must underpin any changes that come about.“We need a constitution that looks at the facts of Aboriginal presence, language, culture and our relationship with the land.”Castlemaine resident Vic Say said he believed indigenous people should be “recognised in regard to dispossession not in regards to race”.“Most people are shocked to see any state legislation that is racist will be recognised by the Commonwealth.”But Mr Say said he believed the referendum had to be planned carefully for it to be successful.“I think they should leave out more of the contentious things that could sink the whole thing if they were included now,” he said.Notes from the meeting will be submitted to the Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, which will report to the government in December.

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