1967 referendum campaigners and their families gathered to recreate the referendum victory photo in May. (ABC News)
Any new Indigenous body giving advice to Federal Parliament must be set up to be “frank and fearless”, the Law Council of Australia says.
The government-appointed Referendum Council will deliver a major report today, recommending its preferred referendum model to recognise Indigenous people.
The paper is the result of several months of consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
At a summit at Uluru last month, Indigenous leaders called for a referendum to be held to establish a national representative body — a so-called “Voice to Parliament”.
That will be a key recommendation of the report delivered to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
In a submission, the Law Council said a well-funded representative body could “empower and inspire” Aboriginal people to have input on laws and policies.
“If such a function was mandated in the constitution they would need to have the funding to carry out basic functions that assist with bringing community voices to the table.”
The Referendum Council received submissions in support of constitutional change from organisations including the Australian Christian Lobby, the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.
Many said a number of changes should be made to the constitution — including inserting a prohibition against racial discrimination.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart, a document setting out the aspirations of Indigenous leaders, also called on the Government to establish a commission to oversee future treaty negotiations.
Labor senator Patrick Dodson last week said that “racist” provisions in the constitution must be removed.