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Council chair regrets lack of inclusive Constitution
    The Chairperson of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council, Ms Vicki Walker, has regretted that opportunities to change the Constitution have been missed, and therefore next week's Australia Day will not be an occasion for all Australians to celebrate.
    Speaking on behalf of indigenous Australians, she said: "We are celebrating a Constitution and a Federation that totally ignored and excluded the First Peoples of this country... We were absent in 1900 and we are absent still."
    Ms Walker recalled challenging the Constitutional Convention at a public meeting four years ago to recognise the continuous rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. She said there have been opportunities to change the Constitution since then, but it has not happened.
    In a statement released yesterday, she asked: "How can we celebrate another Australia Day, especially in this significant year, knowing that change has not occurred?"
    She encouraged all Australians to embrace the idea of a Treaty, and "to see such self-determination as adding to the dignity of our nation not taking something away from anyone."
    She said that an inclusive constitution would mean that Australia Day "need not be seen as Australia Day by one section of our population and Invasion Day by another", adding that Australia Day could possibly be celebrated as Treaty Day.
    NATSICC
   
19-Jan-01

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