Aussies to Vote on Recognizing Aborigines
Gillard plans referendum on changing constitution
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2010 6:05 AM CST
Aborigines protest on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra.   (AP Photo/Mark Graham)
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(Newser) – Australia is planning a referendum on whether to officially recognize indigenous people in the country's constitution for the first time. Prime Minister Julia Gillard described the move as a "once-in-50-year opportunity" to heal the government's relationship with Aborigines and improve their living conditions, the BBC reports.

"This will be a long, hard journey but it's the journey that will mark our maturity as a nation," Aboriginal leader Mick Gooda said, noting that the country had "lost momentum" after its historic apology to Aborigines in 2008. One prominent indigenous activist, however, dismissed the move as a political ploy from an unpopular government. "If white Australia wanted to make a genuine attempt at incorporating our true history into the constitution and reflecting some sort of genuine apology to Aboriginal Australians, then I'd say yes," he told AAP.