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Call for Indigenous Treaty

Call for Indigenous Treaty

By Professor Megan Davis


Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians had to go beyond a weak symbolic gesture to become a model that compelled governments to act, that shaped the behaviour of public institutions and created a requirement to be held accountable, Professor Megan Davis told the Victorian Women Lawyers Dame Roma lunch held at the Plaza Ballroom in March. Professor Davis is the director of the Indigenous Law Centre at the University of NSW. She was the first Indigenous Australian to be elected to a United Nations body in 2010, and for the past four years has served as Australia’s representative on the 16-member permanent forum. She has been closely involved in the campaign for constitutional recognition of Indigenous peoples. Professor Davis said the growing opposition to the Recognise campaign among the Indigenous community had gone beyond a fringe movement to become increasingly mainstream, and increasingly “visceral”. “Our mob is in no mood for mere recognition,” she said. The Recognise campaign was symptomatic of the superficial and “Pollyanna” approach to Indigenous affairs in Australia, she said. Her experience with comparable recognition programs in the United States and Canada had confirmed that Australia was the only liberal democracy that had not yet accommodated Indigenous rights within the framework of the state.

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