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Recognition in the Constitution

Learning Area: Humanities and Social Sciences ACARA information: Literacy ACARA information: Literacy ACARA information: NumeracyACARA information: Numeracy ACARA information: Intercultural understandingACARA information: Intercultural understanding Australian National Curriculum InformationAustralian National Curriculum Information
Age Group: Secondary Middle (15-16 years) – Secondary Senior (16-18 years)


  • Understanding of the Australian Constitution and how it has changed over time (Topic 1)
  • Understanding of the process of constitutional change and the importance of voting (Topic 2)
  • Understanding of the historical impact of the Constitution on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Topic 3)
  • Understanding of the historical context of constitutional change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Topic 4)
  • Knowledge of the current agenda for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Topic 5)


Our Constitution was written more than a century ago. By then, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had lived in this land for more than 40,000 years, keeping alive the world’s oldest continuous cultures. But Australia’s founding document did not recognise the first chapter of our national story.

It mentioned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples only to discriminate. For the first six decades of our democracy – until 1962 – Indigenous Australians could not vote federally, and were excluded even from being counted as citizens until the 1967 Referendum.

Today Australia prides itself on being a place of fairness. But our Constitution still does not recognise the first Australians.

RECOGNISE is the people’s movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution. The group has prepared a School Learning Guide, for use by teachers and students in class discussions and in student leadership activities.

Suggested activities

Related resources

Coloured file folders

Relevant websites


  • George Williams and David Hume, People Power: The History and Future of the Referendum in Australia, Sydney: UNSW Press, 2010.
  • Bain Attwood and Andrew Markus, The 1967 Referendum: Race, Power and the Australian Constitution, 2nd edition, Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2007.
  • Richard Broome, Aboriginal Australians: A history since 1788, 4th edition, Melbourne: Allen & Unwin, 2010.


  • The First Australians: The Untold Story of Australia, Episode 6, A Fair Go For A Dark Race, SBS TV, 2008.
  • This Day Tonight: The 1967 Referendum, ABC 1967.
  • Fair Go, A: 1967 Referendum, ABC 1999.


  • From Little Things Big Things Grow, Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody.
  • Blackfella Whitefella, Warumpi Band.



Date: 21 March 2014