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Thousands in Australia rally for struggling Indigenous referendum

9 months ago 51

Thousands marched in Australia on Sunday in favour of including Indigenous peoples in the country’s constitution, a plan that is facing opposition ahead of a vote next month.

If passed on October 14, the motion will entrench Indigenous people in the constitution and establish an advisory council to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with input on issues affecting them.

Indigenous Australians, who make up 3.8 per cent of the population, experience prejudice, low health and education results, and high imprisonment rates.

However, the “Voice to Parliament” initiative seemed to be doomed, according to a poll released last week, the sixth monthly study in a row to find people opposed to the move.

Yes23, the group behind “Walk for Yes” events, said around 20,000 people attended in Brisbane, Australia’s third-biggest city, with rallies scheduled in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Hobart, Canberra, Darwin and Newcastle.

Many attendees wore T-shirts and held placards emblazoned “Vote Yes!”, Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) footage showed.

To change the constitution, the referendum, backed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Labor government, would require a national majority in favour and majorities in at least four of Australia’s six states.

Most Indigenous people favour the referendum, but some, like prominent No campaigner Warren Mundine, say it is a distraction from achieving practical and positive outcomes and would not fully resolve the issues affecting them.

“If we can do just three things – accountability, jobs and education – then we’ll resolve most of the problems we’ve got,” Mundine told ABC.

Since Australian independence in 1901, only eight of 44 proposals for constitutional change have been approved.

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