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Act of Recognition an important marker on the road to constitutional change

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 13 Feb 2013

The Australian Greens welcome the passage of the Act of Recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as a major stepping stone towards a referendum on the Constitutional Recognition of Australia's First Peoples.

"The Anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations is always a poignant occasion. This year, the Parliament is moving us closer to Reconciliation, with the Act of Recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples passing the House of Representatives." Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Christine Milne said.

"I'm pleased the Greens have once again played a major role in driving change. If it hadn't been for a minority parliament and the Greens making a referendum on constitutional recognition part of the Agreement for Labor to form government, this would have been something talked about in the community but would never have made it through the Parliament."

Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues was a member of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition and participated in the Joint Committee Inquiry into the Act of Recognition.

"It is important to remember that the consequences of the action taken against the Stolen Generations continues to affect our community today, and will continue to do so into the future. This is why the Greens have a Private Member's Bill to ensure compensation for the Stolen Generations.

"As such, it is important to ensure that we do not settle for Acts of Parliament and instead continue to work towards investments to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

"In particular, I today call on the Government to provide ongoing funding for the Healing Foundation, who are undertaking incredibly important work with members of the Stolen Generation. Such a commitment would provide important material support to assist those who continue to suffer as a result of the policies of previous Governments." Senator Siewert said.

"The Greens continue to be committed to recognising the First Australians in our constitution and working productively across party lines as we move towards a referendum on this issue.

"I hope that all parties can involve themselves strongly in this process and work to engage with the Australian public to increase an understanding and appreciation for the importance of constitutional change.

"Strong will, matched with political action is required to drive this change, and that is something the Greens will continue to work hard to deliver." Senator Siewert concluded. 

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