Next Wednesday the 27th of May marks fifty three years since the historic 1967 Referendum was passed, which put the following question to the Australian people:
Do you approve the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled 'An Act to alter the Constitution so as to omit certain words relating to the people of the Aboriginal race in any state so that Aboriginals are to be counted in reckoning the population'?
Indigenous rights campaigner Faith Bandler at a demonstration preceding the referendum. Image source: abc.net.au
The Australian public voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion, with a whopping 94% of people voting yes. It is often mistakenly thought that this win granted Aboriginal people voting rights or citizenship for the first time. In actual fact, First Nations people were already allowed to vote as citizens at that time, however the referendum acted as a symbolic turning point, forging the way for a wave of Aboriginal rights movements over the following decade or so.
Post-referendum victory celebrations. Image source: National Museum Australia
Since then many more advancements have been made toward reconciliation, and fittingly, the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum now marks the first day of Reconciliation Week.
We at Life Apparel fully acknowledge and are deeply saddened by the injustices that First Nations peoples have had to endure, and in many cases are still enduring. For us, this time of year is a reminder of the power of words to create positive, lasting change. We hope that by sharing the stories, art and culture of Aboriginal artists we will continue to start conversations, helping to spread awareness and appreciation of culture. This is just one small part of the whole picture, but we feel a very relevant one, and one step closer toward a truly united future.