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Platform conversations

Platform conversations 

Join Australia’s leading thinkers, opinion makers and experts for provocative conversations about the issues that matter to Australia and Australians right now.

Constitutional recognition – so what?

Mal Brough, Alison Page and Professor Garth Nettheim

8 July 2011, National Museum of Australia

audio_w15 Listen to the audio or download the transcript

Mal Brough

Mal Brough

Former Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs


Alison Page

Alison Page

Member, Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians

Alison Page: Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance

Garth Nettheim

Garth Nettheim

Emeritus Professor of Law, UNSW

Image courtesy Matt Nettheim

The inaugural Platform Conversations event was a provocative panel discussion to debate whether recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Australian Constitution will make a meaningful difference to Indigenous peoples’ lives.

  • What form should that recognition take?
  • Where in the constitution should it appear – just the preamble, or in more substantive provisions?
  • To what extent is the issue an aspect of, or a distraction from, the central objectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ needs and aspirations?
  • What should or could follow on from such recognition, to secure more substantive gains for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Find out more about the issues: You me Unity: Equality and Recognition website featuring a video of Alison Page.

Questions submitted online before the program


I am wondering what potential there is for changes to the constitution to allow for Indigenous sovereignty in Australia?


Are there plans to use the term "invasion" in the recommendation to be put forward? How will adding to the constitution help Indigenous Australian's in a day to day sense?

Imogen Boden

What most needs to shift in Australia for the recognition of Aboriginal people to fulfill the aspirations that might be expressed in the constition?

Audrey Guy

We will never achieve equality for the people we brutally displaced from their land until we acknowledge their existence as equals. When will forums like this have genuine majority involvement of the First Australians?

Nick Parmeter

Do you think it would be a strange result if Australia voted to insert a preamble into the constitution, recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, but were not asked to remove racist provisions such as sections 25 or 51(26)? (Noting that s 25 provides for the exclusion of people from voting on the grounds of race; and s 51(26) allows the Parliament to make laws for the benefit or detriment of particular racial groups)

Angela Wu

What immediate/short term/long term practical effect will it have on the lives/living conditions of the indigenous Australian people?

ANU student

Question: why limit Indigenous inclusion to the preamble?

Find out about our second Platform Conversations event:
How ethical is Australia? with Peter Singer