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Constitutional Recognition of Tasmanian Aboriginal people

In October 2016, the Tasmanian Parliament unanimously passed the Constitution Amendment (Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal People) Act 2016, and it was given Royal Assent by Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AM in a ceremony at Government House in December 2016. The Act amends the Tasmanian Constitution Act 1934 to recognise Aboriginal people as Tasmania’s First People.

The Premier and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Will Hodgman MP, described constitutional recognition as “a very important step on the journey of reconciliation, and … a key part of my Government’s commitment to re-set our relationship with Tasmanian Aboriginal people.”

The amendment makes a clear and significant statement of fact, recognising the First Tasmanians in the State’s Constitution. The text of the amendment is as follows:

And whereas the Parliament, on behalf of all the people of Tasmania, acknowledges the Aboriginal people as Tasmania’s First People and the traditional and original owners of Tasmanian lands and waters; recognises the enduring spiritual, social, cultural and economic importance of traditional lands and waters to Tasmanian Aboriginal people; and recognises the unique and lasting contributions that Tasmanian Aboriginal people have made and continue to make to Tasmania:

The amended Act can be viewed on the Tasmanian legislation database.

Additional background information on this issue can be found on the website of the House of Assembly Standing Committee on Community Development's Inquiry into the Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal People as Tasmania's First People.