Australia aboriginals call for empowerment vote as elections close in
The indigenous population of Australia is demanding parliamentary representation as they are deprived of their right to being heard despite being the original inhabitants of the country.
The Indigenous people of Australia are calling on the political parties that will be in charge of forming Canberra's next government to hold a referendum on the Australian constitution recognizing them as the country's First Nations and granting them formal representation in Parliament, local media reported Thursday.
The Australian government has voiced repeatedly that it would prefer establishing an advisory body representing the Indigenous instead of changing the constitution, which would require a referendum, reports say. The Australian federal election will take place on Saturday.
"We need our politicians, and the next government, whoever forms government in the 46th Parliament of Australia to get on board and make this happen," National Director for Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) Paul Wright told New Zealand's 1News broadcaster.
Australian broadcaster ABC News data revealed that more than 73% of Australians "firmly" or "to some extent" agree that the constitution needs amendments to ensure that the Aboriginals get a voice in parliament.
Only a nationwide referendum is the only option for changing the Australian constitution, though it is unclear what a "Voice to Parliament," would look like.
The Indigenous people of Australia are descendants of the first modern people believed to have migrated from Africa nearly 75,000 years ago. Today they make up less than 3% of the country's population.
This comes amid severe underrepresentation of the Indigenous people of Australia.
Since 1991, more than 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons have died in jail, including at least 11 deaths in the past nine months.
An Australian police officer was acquitted of murder in March after fatally shooting an Indigenous teenager, a decision that enraged families and elders who were disturbed by the high incidence of Aboriginal fatalities in custody.