Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Australian Sport Unite to Back Indigenous Constitutional Recognition

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Twenty Australian sporting organizations announced on Friday their support of a referendum to constitutionally recognize Indigenous peoples, as the country marked “Apology Day” when it accepts injustice.

Sports including cricket, golf, motorsport, netball and badminton pledged support for a proposed “Voice to Parliament”, a consultative committee that would advise legislators on matters affecting Indigenous peoples.

Last week, Rugby Australia and the Australian Football League backed a referendum, likely to take place between October and December, when voters would be asked whether they wanted the constitution to be changed to include The Voice.

Former players including cricketer Jason Gillespie, footballer Jade North and netballer Catherine Cox read a statement in support of the referendum, boosting the “yes” campaign after some polls showed a strong lead for them.

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Dean Parkin of the Yes campaign said, “By uniting to support the Yes cause, the national sports codes are sending a powerful signal that this referendum is about community and the things that lift us up as people.”

Making up about 3.2% of Australia’s 26 million population, Aboriginal people were marginalized by the British colonial rulers and are not mentioned in the 122-year-old constitution.

While most Indigenous people support the Voice, some argue that it is a distraction from achieving practical change and will not fully solve the problems affecting the community.

Sky News reported that MP Jacinta Nampijimpa Price, an Indigenous person who opposed the referendum, said sports organizations should “stay out of politics”.

Also on Friday Indigenous leaders are meeting at Uluru – often referred to as the heart of Australia’s “Red Centre” – to mark the sixth anniversary of the advocacy group, The Uluru Statement.

A historic gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2017 called for the creation of a single voice for the first time.

“Sorry Day” commemorates the thousands of Indigenous children who were taken from their families between the early 1900s and about 1970 as part of a government policy to assimilate into white society.

(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters,

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