Australia is due to hold a referendum later this year on a constitutional amendment that would give indigenous people a vote in parliament. The plan for the referendum under the slogan “Voice to Parliament” has been known for some time – now Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made details and the specific question public at an emotional press conference.

“This will read: A proposed constitutional amendment law to recognize the first peoples of Australia by creating a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Do you agree with this proposed amendment?” Albanese read on Thursday. During his speech, he spoke at times in a tear-choked voice. Many indigenous representatives who were present also cried. “Many have been waiting for this moment for a very long time,” said Albanese.

Specifically, the constitutional amendment is about a body of indigenous Australians advising the government on questions about the indigenous people. Members are to be nominated by Aboriginal officials and not by the government. The relationship between Australians and the indigenous population is a very sensitive issue Down Under. Aborigines settled the red continent 65,000 years ago, according to the National Museum.

Prime Minister Rudd issued an apology in 2008

For many decades following the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788 and the colonization that followed, Aboriginal children were snatched from their parents. They had to grow up in homes or with white families. Those affected are known in Australia as the “stolen generation”. It was only in 2008 that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued an official apology for the suffering of the indigenous people.

The indigenous people are not mentioned in the country’s constitution, passed in 1901. They were only granted civil rights in 1967. Albanese pushed ahead with the “voice referendum” after his election victory in May 2022. Most recently, it was said that the survey would be conducted sometime between October and December 2023.