AN INDIGENOUS woman from the Camden Haven has spoken out about the importance of a referendum to remove racist sections from the Constitution of Australia.
Originally from Laurieton and now living in Sydney, Shaarn Hayward, 21, welcomed Lyne MP Robert Oakeshott’s appeal last week for Government leaders to agree on the wording of a referendum question that would see Australians vote on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recognition in the Australian Constitution.
Shaarn is a law student at UNSW and went to Camden Haven High School.
“If we’re doing Welcome to Country and other celebrations of Aboriginal culture it only makes sense to have these changes made to the words of our constitution,” Ms Hayward said. “I think it’s something that needs to be discussed more often and I’m glad someone from the area I grew up in is getting behind it.”
The referendum was due to be held before the election scheduled for next year to fulfil a promise Labor made to the Greens and independents to form government.
Last week it look likely the referendum would be delayed.
Mr Oakeshott asked Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott to agree to the wording of a referendum so it could be put to the Australian people before the 2013 election.Mr Oakeshott said he was concerned some people in Government had put the issue in the too-hard basket.
“Constitutional recognition of our 40,000 year-old-history is surely an issue that transcends the day-to-day battlefield of politics,” Mr Oakeshott said.
Ms Hayward said she whole-heartedly agreed with a recommendation made in January by an expert panel was one that the Constitution be altered to remove racist sections and create power for the advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders and the protection of language and culture.