Senior Australian of the Year, Fred Chaney, is confident Australia is ready to support constitutional recognition of indigenous people.
Mr Chaney, co-founder of Reconciliation Australia, says Australia is now a very different place to the Australia of the 1960s, when it took a decade of campaigning to ensure the successful 1967 referendum to count indigenous Australians in the national census.
Any change to the Australian Constitution must be passed at a national referendum with the back of a majority of states and voters.
Mr Chaney says community support has to be built up and the government is working hard to conduct the necessary referendum during the current parliament.
"There is an unprecedented amount of political and community interest in doing something about the circumstances of the relationship with Aboriginal people," he told ABC Radio on Monday.
"At no other time in Australia's history has there been so much political firepower directed to this.
"The community wants change here and I think therefore there is a real possibility we can build the support required."
Mr Chaney said the full involvement of indigenous people is essential.
"The most important thing we have learned over the last 30 or 40 years is that programs which do not engage Aboriginal people themselves, which don't make Aboriginal people prime actors in the matter, are likely to, if not fail, certainly produce much less than we expect," he said.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has promised to finalise a draft form of words for changing the constitution by September. The government and Labor opposition both support the move.
Early in 2013 federal parliament passed an Act of Recognition, intended to pave the way for constitutional change by allowing time to build community support for a referendum.