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Bond marks 50th anniversary of landmark 1967 Constitutional Referendum


Bond University will mark the 50th anniversary of the landmark 1967 Constitutional Referendum with a panel discussion on Thursday, 25 May, examining the impact of the reforms on Indigenous Australians and whether further Constitutional changes are required today.

Australians overwhelmingly voted to amend the Constitution on 27 May, 1967 to include the Indigenous population in the Census and give the Commonwealth power to make special laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Five decades on, a panel of Indigenous leaders and activists will discuss the influence the referendum has had and debate what form any further amendments, if needed, should take.

One of Australia's preeminent Indigenous law experts - Professor Irene Watson, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Aboriginal Leadership and Strategy at the University of South Australia - will deliver the keynote address at the event. 

Professor Watson belongs to the Tanganekald Meintangk Boandik First Nations People, of South Australia, and is renowned for her research on Indigenous peoples in relation to domestic and international law.  She has been a member of the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement in South Australia since 1973 and has served on numerous bodies around Australia, primarily concerned with advancing Aboriginal rights.

Professor Watson will be joined by a distinguished panel, including Barrister Joshua Creamer, Native Title Tribunal's Dr Valerie Cooms and Griffith Law School's Heron Loban.

The event will be hosted by Bond University's Faculty of Law and Nyombil Centre, with Bond University Master of Law alumna Dani Larkin the Master of Ceremonies.

Ms Larkin grew up on an Aboriginal mission outside Grafton and has worked in a legal capacity for a number of Government agencies including the Australian Federal Police, Department of Public Prosecutions ACT, Australian Taxation Office and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service.

She is currently completing her PhD at Bond University, examining the role of law and policy in Indigenous cultural identity and political participation.

Bond University Law Professor Jonathan Crowe said the commemorative event was an opportunity to reflect on the referendum and possible future reforms.

“It is very timely that we are revisiting the legacy of the referendum, as there are ongoing discussions about constitutional change,” said Professor Crowe.

“We believe there is an important conversation to be had around Australia regarding Indigenous recognition.

“Bond hopes to provide a forum in which Indigenous voices can be heard in that conversation and we are proud to bring together such a distinguished panel of guests to lead the discussion.”

The event will be held at Bond University's University Club and Restaurant, on Level 3 of Building 6, from 5.30pm to 8.30pm on Thursday, May 25.  To register, click here.

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