This year we are reflecting on two significant anniversaries in Australian history and our nation’s path to reconciliation.
In 2017 it is 50 years since the 1967 referendum and 25 years since the historic decision to uphold native title rights in the Mabo case.
This week those anniversaries are the focus of National Recognition Week which started at the weekend and runs through to next weekend.
A number of events are being held around the country to mark the occasion.
The week celebrates this country’s journey to reconciliation and has coincided with campaign to “let’s take the next steps” to reconciliation.
Indigenous leaders are calling for their people to be fully recognised in the constitution.
As the two previous anniversary dates have shown, this country has taken its time so far and the next logical step might yet be a bigger jump than at first it would appear. The “next step” is nothing if not challenging.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took a precautionary approach last week when given the opportunity on constitutional recognition for aboriginal people.
He correctly noted history reflected the Australian people had been reluctant to make constitutional change.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull cautiously responded to Indigenous leaders' calls for a constitutionally enshrined "voice" to parliament, warning that Australians are "conservative" about constitutional change.
"As I know better than most, changing the Australian constitution is not easy - 44 referendums and only eight successes," he told guests at the National Recognition Week luncheon last week.
Fair enough, that is unavoidable, but because something is hard doesn’t mean that it is not worthwhile
Opposition leader Bill Shorten said: “We owe those members and those that participated the time and the space to finish their work and we owe them an open mind on the big questions: the form that recognition takes on treaties, on changes required in the constitution and on the best way to fulfil a legitimate and long-held position for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people.”
The Uluru Statement from the Heart by the Referendum Council read: “In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard”. The question remains is how long will it take for that voice to be heard.