On May 27th 1967, Australians voted overwhelmingly in favour of amending the Constitution to allow the Australian Government to make laws for Aboriginal people and include them in the census.
The campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote gained widespread support among the Australian public and this was reflected in the final vote: 91% of Australian people in favour of the amendment. It showed the Australian people 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 in 1967.
National Reconciliation Week 2021 is all about turning the word ‘reconciliation’ into action. Learn these 5 facts about the 1967 Referendum 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.
*Banner image: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/50th-anniversary-of-pivotal-1967-referendum