GPRA has submitted a contribution to the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples inquiry into constitutional change.
As such, GPRA asks the Joint Select Committee to recommend to the Australian Parliament to undertake a national referendum within two years to make changes to the wording of the Australian constitution to provide separate and full recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and their cultures, languages and heritage, to replace racially discriminatory provisions, to include a prohibition of racial discrimination and to ensure measures to prevent health disadvantage.
GPRA believes that, if properly presented by the government and other major political parties, there would be sufficient public support for this referendum.
To date, GPRA is the only general practice organisation who has provided a submission.
In our submission, we drew the attention of the Joint Select Committee to the continuing health disadvantage of Indigenous Australians and the concerns and issues raised by the Expert Panel reporting, in January 2012, on the Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Panel’s recognition of the need to remedy the historical exclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from Australia’s constitution and the need to remove discrimination.
We also drew attention to the work of The Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, and the Recognise Health initiative, which promotes understanding of the important link between health and wellbeing and constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
“Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would acknowledge their powerful sense of identity, pride, history and belonging to this land. It would promote opportunities for full participation in all that Australia has to offer and would be a significant step towards equity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia. Recognition, participation and equity would, in turn, have profound positive consequences for wellbeing, and therefore health. There is significant evidence from health research to indicate that being connected to the wider community, having a strong identity and feeling socially supported all have significant positive impacts on health.”1
1 Mokak R (2015) The link between health and wellbeing and constitutional recognition. Med J Aust; 203 (1): 1. doi:10.5694/mja15.00643