National Reconciliation week /1967 referendum
National Reconciliation Week is held each year from the 27th of May to the 3rd of June and commemorates two significant events in Australian history – the 1967 Referendum and Mabo Day. Reconciliation week aims to educate Australians about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, and promote reconciliation between the broader Australian community and the Indigenous peoples of Australia.
On 27 May 1967, a Constitutional referendum was held to vote on changing the Australian Constitution in two areas – to allow the Parliament to make special laws for Indigenous Australians and to allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be included in the official count of the Australian population. An overwhelming majority (almost 91%) of the eligible voting population supported the amendment. Decades later, this result remains the highest yes vote ever recorded in an Australian referendum.
While the referendum did not grant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with equal rights to non-Indigenous Australians, it was an important step in raising the expectations of government to uphold the fundamental rights and freedoms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.