An Indigenous academic in Bendigo says the federal government should work towards establishing a treaty with Indigenous Australians before considering a referendum on constitutional recognition.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt announced on Tuesday that the federal government would have a referendum on recognising First Nations people in the Australian constitution within the next three years.
Mr Wyatt told the National Press Club, he would work with Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney and other parliamentary colleagues to find the "right set of words" to present to Australia.
But Indigenous academic enrichment adviser at La Trobe University Bendigo Tashara Roberts said a referendum would be ineffective.
"I think constitutional recognition will take away our rights and set us back unless treaties are in place first," Ms Roberts said. "I do not support constitutional recognition.
"Tony Abbott supports the recognise campaign and he is no friend to Aboriginal people and he has done nothing for us. That in itself should make people suspicious."
Only eight of the 44 referendums held in Australia since 1901 have been successful.
Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Rodney Carter said a referendum could be a positive step forward for Indigenous Australians, but only if it was conducted properly.
"A referendum, if it's successful, will have constitutional weight as is the accepted process in Australia," he said.
"But looking at the history of referendums in this country, it is often difficult for the community to get a complete understanding of the issue.
"It's important that the conversation empowers the Australian people broadly to understand the First Nations peoples right to recognition. They need to talk about it openly.
"Otherwise, there is a real risk that it will be a waste of time because people don't understand what we're talking about."
A gathering of 300 Indigenous elders and leaders in 2017 signed the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which called for "constitutional reforms to empower" Indigenous Australians and to establish a "First Nations Voice enshrined in the constitution".
A referendum would not respect the Uluru Statement, Ms Roberts said.
"Our government and fellow Australians should be focusing on what we asked for in the Uluru Statement -treaty and an Indigenous voice to parliament - instead of deciding for us which order the things should be implemented and what direction we should go in to support our first Australians," Ms Roberts said.
"This year's NAIDOC theme is 'voice, truth, treaty: let's work together'. So work with us, listen to us, and don't make decisions for us.
"Historically, good meaning people made poor decisions that still affect us today because they decided what was best for us.
"But I speak for myself, my opinion is my own. No individual Indigenous person has the right or the knowledge to speak for us all. Each Aboriginal nation has their own leaders and beliefs."
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