Mr Dodson introduced himself as the Social Justice Commissioner

Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous
Umuwa SA, Public Consultation
12 May 2011
Panel member(s): Mick Gooda
Interpreter: Richard Schilling and Sadie Umula
Number of Attendees: 35
Acknowledgement of Country
Mr Gooda acknowledged the traditional owners on whose land we met, and paid respect to
their elders past and present.
Expert Panel Introduction:
Mr Gooda introduced himself both as the Social Justice Commissioner and a member of the
Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
Panel members provided an overview of the Discussion Paper and an overview of
the role and membership of the Panel.
Issues and questions raised in discussion
The Constitution
Can Aboriginal people vote on it now – to change the Constitution of Australia?
We have to change the law – we are APY peoples and we have to say yes and change
this Constitution. We have to fight for change and say yes.
The government has to listen to us to change the rules.
I’m thinking the government can’t change this – only the people can change this and not
just APY but everyone. It can’t be changed by Canberra. Aboriginal people have to say
I fought for the land. I fought for Aboriginal people. I did the right thing. I got the
knowledge and the wisdom. I got the Constitution in my bag. Aboriginal people missed
out in 1967. This has got to be a big talk. It’s got to be strong. We have a community
Constitution and we have Traditional law. We missed out on the flag. It should have
been the seven sisters. We have to get this back. We have to fight for this now. We have
to fight for this land for the Constitution and the flag. I want it to tell our story
Stories about the Constitution and the half cast mob wanted change in the 40s so they
could be recognised as human beings. We were handcuffed and made to work for a
pittance. Need to recognise black people own the land. White people didn’t understand
our law so they wanted to change us. They took us away, they put us on islands. We lost
our culture and lost our language. They couldn’t kill us so they tried to breed us out. It
was the law. Black men couldn’t go out with white women – that was the law.
Lack of education about the Constitution
Most people don’t understand the Constitution and what’s in it – it’s hard to read.
The government advised there was going to be drilling, mining and oil exploration on our
land – if it was found there would be no royalty paid once the change takes place – it
should be paid to the community not to individuals.
Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous
Umuwa SA, Public Consultation
12 May 2011
Ideas for change
Should Aboriginal people be recognised in the Constitution?
Yes, definitely. We have law and we have culture here and if we want to change the law
of the nation we have to stand up and vote – this is our land, our country, our culture –
we have to fight for it.
We want the Constitution to recognise the aboriginal story and culture and ownership of
the land.
We need to protect culture and our sacred sites.
We have the right to live as Aboriginal people in Australia.
Everyone is happy to change the Constitution – this is a chance to say yes before white
people come in and get something.
Black people were the owners – we need to put our ownership in the book [the
Constitution] and in partnerships.
In this book [the Constitution] the government didn’t recognise us – we need to be
recognised. It’s about our rights. We need to get a lawyer and we need to change this
book and put our story in there.
Joint commitment for change
Not just us – its all over Australia. So white people can see this is Aboriginal land and
When white people vote for this it is about telling our story – we need white people and
black people coming together on this.
When white people say ‘yes’ they recognise Aboriginal people were here first.
Agreement making
We also want self determination - it should cover the management of community as
well. It should cover everything.
Impact of Constitutional change
how will Constitutional change affect the APY lands? We are a tribal people with our
own laws in our community, how will changing the Constitution affect family life and
symbols are important to people and to countries, but I’m unsure how it will change
things for individuals.
In 1967 we were counted as human beings, we were counted and given the right to vote
but we were and we still are oppressed. I’m a qualified mechanic and I can’t get a job
because I’m Aboriginal.
We want to take out the discrimination [from the Constitution].
We need a fair go – ‘yes’ for this land, ‘yes’ for this ground.
Next steps
We want you [Mick Gooda] to come back to the big mob at the general meeting when
the whole community is here. We will get a lawyer to attend.