Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt speaks at the National Press Club in Canberra, Australia, July 10, 2019. AAP Image/Rohan Thomson/via REUTERS

Australia promises national referendum on recognition of indigenous people within 3 years

The Australian government has said the nation will ask the citizens of the country to decide on the long debated issue of recognizing the indigenous people – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the constitution.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt promised on Wednesday that Australia will hold a national referendum on if to include the recognition of the indigenous people in its constitution, within 3 years. The national referendum is the only way to change the constitution of the country by securing the majority of the votes to YES.

Following a recent increase in the public support on the issue, Minister Wyatt gave a word of holding the nation referendum by 2022 – before the finishing of the tenure of the newly elected government.

“I will develop and bring forward a consensus option for constitutional recognition to be put to a referendum during the current parliamentary term,” Wyatt said in a speech in Canberra.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are the first inhabitants of Australia, even before British Colonist came 50,000 years later. But despite the fact that they were the first people in the land, they have been marginalized, even the constitution allows to discriminate them on the base of race.

Indigenous Australians account for about 700,000 people in a total population of 23 million and have tracked near the bottom in almost every socio-economic indicator, suffering disproportionately high rates of suicide, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and imprisonment.

Denied the vote until the mid-1960s, they face a 10-year gap in life expectancy compared with other Australians and make up 27% of the prison population.

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