A referendum to recognise indigenous Australians in the Constitution could be held within this term of Parliament, according to the chairman of the committee Tony Abbott has entrusted to push the case for change.
WA Liberal MP Ken Wyatt welcomed the Prime Minister's declaration in his new year's message that he would "start the conversation" this year on recognition.
Mr Abbott promised before the election to put forward a proposed amendment within 12 months of taking office, while Attorney-General George Brandis has flagged the wording could be ready by July.
But Mr Wyatt cautioned that change would only succeed if there was widespread public acceptance.
"Everyone has to remember that the Constitution belongs to every Australian," Mr Wyatt told _The West Australian _.
"We've got to convince the majority of Australians and the majority of the States that change is both warranted and worthy."
Mr Wyatt said his committee would begin extensive engagement with Australians, such as public hearings and roundtable discussions.
He said the support of the coalition, Labor and the Greens was crucial to its success.
Groups such as Reconciliation Australia, the Recognise campaign and unions would also assist, with Mr Wyatt saying there was a "people's movement" for talks.
Asked whether a referendum could be held before or with the next Federal election, due in late 2016, Mr Wyatt said: "It will depend on the mood of the country and that is what we will be charged with having to gauge."
Mr Wyatt, the first indigenous member of the House of Representatives, said constitutional recognition was the next step after the 1967 referendum and Kevin Rudd's 2008 apology to the Stolen Generation in recognising Australia's history started with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
He dismissed fears recognition could lead to litigation by Aboriginal people, saying he had not seen any legal challenges after States recognised indigenous people in their constitutions.