Why Recognise?

We are asking notable citizens in the Moreland area to share their responses to the campaign to Recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Constitution.

Suggestions for other Moreland notable citizens who support Recognise are welcome. We will add more responses as we receive them:

Senator Janet Rice
Parliament of Australia

JANET RICE BIO PHOTO

Background
I became a Senator for Victoria in July 2014. My office is located in Sydney Road, right in the middle of Coburg. I am a proud member of the Australian Greens and I love the City of Moreland for its rich social diversity and active local communities.

What does Recognise mean to you personally?
I want to be part of an Australia that celebrates, appreciates and acknowledges our Aboriginal past, present and future. I believe our incredible Indigenous history and heritage is important to our understanding of Australia today.

What does Recognise mean for Australia?
Recognise provides the opportunity to have an important national conversation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, to hear their stories and work together for an inclusive and respectful Australian society.

Kelvin Thomson
MP for Wills, Parliament of Australia

Kelvin head shot portrait-2

Background
I was born and grew up in Pascoe Vale. From an early age I developed a strong interest in Australia’s unique birds, plants and animals, which for millennia have shared this vast continent with our Indigenous people. I became involved in the Australian Labor Party to protect our beautiful natural environment and wildlife.

Today I continue to live in the Moreland area. I am proud to be the Federal Member of Parliament representing the views and aspirations of the Wills community. It is a politically active community with a strong social conscience. Local residents are highly supportive of the Recognise Campaign and improving the outcomes for our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

I have served as the Federal MP for Wills since 1996, the State Member for Pascoe Vale between 1988 and 1996, and a Coburg City Councillor from 1981 to 1988. In these roles, I have worked to improve the circumstances of our natural environment and our Indigenous community. I am proud of Australia’s Indigenous heritage and believe we can learn a lot from our Indigenous community about caring for our natural environment.

What does Recognise mean to you personally?
The Australian nation has taken important steps towards recognising Aboriginal people, such as giving them the right to vote in 1967 and land rights in the 1970s. Notable moments more recently are Paul Keating’s landmark Redfern speech, the Mabo decision, and the national apology to the stolen generations by Kevin Rudd in 2009.

The Closing the Gap Report was tabled in Parliament recently and found that the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is widening in some aspects. It is unacceptable that Indigenous Australians continue to experience lower levels of life expectancy, health outcomes, educational outcomes, job outcomes, drug and alcohol issues, and much more.

I fully support the Recognise campaign to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution. Updating our Constitution will be an important milestone as we work towards healing the nation’s relationship with indigenous Australians.

What does Recognise mean for Australia?
Since the settlement of the first Europeans in 1788, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced land dispossession, community fracture, loss of culture and identity, the introduction of disease, and damage to Australia’s natural environment .

Australia prides itself on being the country of the fair go, however our Constitution does not recognise the first Australians. Section 25 of the Constitution allows the States to ban people from voting based on their race. We have a bi-partisan opportunity to modernise our Constitution as part of the process of including our Indigenous community in our national life.

Whilst being an important step, Constitutional Recognition can only achieve so much. Successive Australian Governments must continue to provide greater opportunities for Indigenous Australians to bridge the gap in terms of health outcomes, life expectancy, education, incarceration rates and job opportunities.

Lizzie Blandthorn
MP for Pascoe Vale, Parliament of Victoria

Blandthorn, Lizzie

Background:
I have worked or volunteered in the Moreland community most of my adult life and I bought my first home on Moreland Road in 2007. I love being a part of this vibrant, diverse and friendly community.

It was a privilege to be elected the State Member of Parliament for Pascoe Vale as part of the Andrews Labor government in November 2014. I chair the Parliament of Victoria’s Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee which is responsible for ensuring that proposed legislation is not contrary to the Victorian Charter of Human Rights.

What does Recognise mean to you personally?
I am a strong believer in social justice, including reconciliation. I believe in an Australia which recognises and celebrates our Indigenous heritage and I was pleased to be present for the historic permanent raising of the Aboriginal flag over the Victorian Parliament in September 2015. The recognition of Indigenous people in our constitution is an important step towards a more inclusive Australia.

What does Recognise mean for Australia?
Recognising Indigenous people in our constitution will ensure that the document which defines our democracy is in line with Australian values such as inclusivity and fairness. This campaign has provided an important opportunity for the promotion of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.