1967 referendum: indigenous leaders' views

Lucy Hughes Jones

Supported by an unprecedented 90 per cent of Australian voters, the 1967 referendum recognised Aboriginal people in the census and gave the Commonwealth powers to create equitable laws for them.

"There is not much evidence that suggests the 1967 referendum really changed the lived experience of most First Nations people. If anything, things have got worse" - indigenous business leader Sean Gordon.

"Of course it has changed a lot from when my grandparents were my age to where I am now but we're still well behind where we should be" - Reconciliation Australia chief executive Justin Mohamed.

"It was a high watermark in the relationship between Aboriginal and mainstream Australia ... (but) the powers that be used those amendments from 1967 to oppress us even further" - Referendum Council co-chair Pat Anderson.

"It's gone forward but the question is, 'Has it gone forward at the pace it should have?' No it hasn't" - former Aboriginal social justice commissioner Tom Calma.

"It should be a call to action. Something is still missing. Recognition will need to be owned by all of us" - Labor frontbencher Linda Burney.

"Ultimately there's unfinished business in Australia and until we've got a treaty, there'll always be unfinished business" - Greens senator Nick McKim.

"The push for recognition needs to capture the hearts and minds of indigenous Australians. It must not be framed around the way others have looked at us but how we look at ourselves" - indigenous leader Warren Mundine.

"If we couldn't achieve a second referendum at the 50th anniversary, that is not a mistake and that is not a bad thing. It just means we're not ready yet" - Indigenous senator Malarndirri McCarthy

"Now it is up to us to draw from the example of those we honour today and, so inspired, bring new heights and brighter blooms to that tree of reconciliation which protects and benefits us all" - Prime MInister Malcolm Turnbull.

"The High Court plaintiffs, led by Eddie 'Koiki' Mabo, and the referendum campaigners showed extraordinary determination to win their respective battles and change the nation's history" - Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion.