On May 27, 1967, Australians voted overwhelmingly in favour of amending the Constitution to allow the Australian Government to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and include them in the census.

The campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote in Australia’s 1967 referendum gained widespread support among the Australian public, and this was reflected in the final vote: 91% of Australian people were in favour of the amendment. The referendum showed that the Australian people clearly wanted change for First Nations people and were willing to vote for constitutional change to achieve this.

Today, as we move towards truth, justice and reconciliation as a country, it will be the Australian people who will walk with us to compel Government action – as we saw with everyone who was involved in the 1967 referendum.

Learn more about the 1967 Referendum in Australia

Every year, National Reconciliation Week is all about turning the word ‘reconciliation’ into action. Learn these five facts about the 1967 referendum in Australia, and share the tiles below on social media to spread awareness:

  1. Until the successful 1967 referendum, First Nations people were not counted in the census and therefore weren’t considered part of the Australian population.
  2. Over 90% of Australians voted ‘YES’ in the 1967 referendum – the highest recorded ‘YES’ vote in Australian history. There have been 44 referendums in Australia since 1901 and only eight of those have returned a ‘YES’ vote.
  3. Did you know: Unique among Australian referendums, in 1967 there was no campaign for a ‘NO’ vote? This meant that the ‘YES’ campaigners had a clear uncontested platform: this was a conscience vote on the concept of nationhood.
  4. The successful 1967 referendum outcome did
    – Remove the exclusion in the Constitution that Federal Parliament could not make laws for Aboriginal people (Section 51).
    – Remove the wording in the Constitution that ‘Aboriginal natives should not be counted’ in the national census (Section 127).
    – Provide a symbolic victory, acknowledging that First Nations people were part of the nation.
  5. The successful 1967 referendum outcome did not
    – Grant First Nations people the right to vote – this had already been achieved by 1967.
    – Secure all rights and equality for First Nations people – it only affirmed the broad principle of national inclusion. How that should be put into practice was not outlined.

Children’s Ground is a First Nations Organisation led by First Nations Communities in Australia

From infants to Elders, we work with entire communities over a 25-year period to make real and lasting change. From learning and wellbeing to community development, cultural development and systemic change, Children’s Ground adopts an evidenced-based approach, designed with First Nations leaders to achieve radical reform.