To recognise or not to recognise: The place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' in the Australian Constitution

Tuesday, 7 August 2012
Prof Megan Davis

In the 2012 Wentworth Lecture, Megan Davis speaks about the idea, the discussion, the debate and the momentum toward recognition in two parts, with the intention of highlighting the recommendations of the expert panel, and contributing to an understanding of the technical aspect of constitutional reform. She also seeks to provoke conversations in our communities about the importance of constitutional recognition.

First she draws attention to the comprehensive work of the expert panel, providing an explanation of who has been advocating for constitutional reform and why constitutional reform is a poor aspect of unfinished business, as well as explaining the origin and the methodology of the panel outlining the recommendation made in the final report to the Prime Minster. The report is an important contribution to a deeper understanding of the exigencies of constitutional change in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. 

Then second, Megan Davis pays tribute to Bill Wentworth by sharing her personal observations as a member of the panel travelling the length and breadth of Australia. Here she explains her optimism about the future of constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Consequently, rather unconventionally, she speaks to Billy Wentworth’s legacy in the latter part of the talk rather than at the beginning.