Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council hosts referendum discussion for indigenous rights

RETIREES Wally McLeod, Mallabula, and David Robertson, Tanilba Bay, were strangers with seemingly little in common before they met at Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council on Monday.

They were among 30 people involved in the Recognise afternoon tea that forms part of a national movement toward equality.

It wasn’t until they discussed the 1967 referendum, which gave indigenous Australians the right to vote, that they realised how much history they shared.

“We were both at Kapooka [Army camp] but served in different units”, Mr McLeod, a Vietnam veteran said.

“But we both voted ‘yes’.”

While not of Aboriginal heritage Mr McLeod said he supports the movement.

The Recognise event was the 307th since May 2013 which aims to bring equality to a referendum in 2017.

“We’re not interested in taking your backyards and clothes lines we just want our rights,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“The only way this movement will work is if we talk.

“If there are 30 people here and they each talk to five or 10 people then word starts to spread.”

The movement’s supporters hope to change two parts of the Australian constitution.

In 1967 the phrase ‘Aborigine’ was struck from the constitution but the states still have the power to restrict different races from voting.

“There’s no place in society to exclude people on the grounds of race,” Recognise campaigner Mark Yettica-Paulson said.

“The important thing is to have the conversation in your context, away from the capital cities.”

The 1967 vote, which found 91.5 per cent of a majority, is still Australia’s most successful referendum.