The Australian Declaration of Recognition

The Australian Declaration of Recognition introduces a new proposal for recognising indigenous Australians. Sometimes we need to think about an old problem in a new way. In this essay, Damien Freeman and Julian Leeser argue that we should rethink our approach to indigenous recognition: instead of trying to insert some modest statement in the Constitution, we should consider adopting an Australian Declaration of Recognition, which would contain a powerful and poetic statement of the nation that Australia has become, and our aspirations for our nation’s future.

In the United States, generations of Americans have drawn inspiration from the Declaration of Independence. So too, future generations of Australians will draw inspiration from the Australian Declaration of Recognition that we might adopt in 2017.

The need for recognition

In the next few years, Australians may decide to make substantive changes to the Constitution to address indigenous issues. The purpose of some of these alterations is to change the cultural position of Indigenous Australians in the national story. We propose that, alongside any substantive constitutional changes, all historical and aspirational statements be embodied in an Australian Declaration of Recognition. An Australian Declaration of Recognition provides the best way to address cultural issues while avoiding legal technicalities.

  • To download Freeman and Leeser’s pamphlet, The Australian Declaration of Recognitionclick here.

Credit: Daniel Bolt


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