On 27 May 1967 a remarkable event occurred. An overwhelming majority of electors voted in a national referendum to amend clauses of the Australian Constitution concerning Aboriginal people. Today it is commonly regarded as a turning point in the history of relations between Indigenous and white Australians. This was the historic moment when citizenship rights were granted — including the vote — and the Commonwealth at long last assumed responsibility for Aboriginal affairs. But the referendum did none of these things. The 1967 Referendum explores the legal and political significance of the referendum and the long struggle by black and white Australians for constitutional change. It traces the emergence of a series of powerful narratives about the Australian Constitution and the status of Aborigines, revealing how and why the referendum campaign acquired so much significance, and has since become the subject of highly charged myth in contemporary Australia. Attwood and Markus’s text is complemented by personal recollections of the campaign by a range of Indigenous people, historical documents and photographs.
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