40th anniversary, 1967 Referendum


Donated by Colin Hesse

Museum of Australian Democracy collection

In May 1967 the Australian people were asked to vote on a referendum which asked: ‘Do you approve the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled–“An Act to alter the Constitution so as to omit certain words relating to the People of the Aboriginal Race in any State so that Aboriginals are to be counted in reckoning the Population”?’ The overwhelming national ‘yes’ response (90.77%), which was carried by six states, enabled the Commonwealth to legislate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to count Indigenous Australians in national censuses.

The donor of this badge, Colin Hesse, writes:

John Howard very famously, or perhaps infamously, fanned the flames of racial intolerance during his time as Prime Minister, in particular his opposition to the High Court’s support for Eddie Mabo’s claim for ownership of his traditional land in the Torres Strait and the resulting end of the principle of terra nullius. Howard’s position and refusal to offer an apology to the stolen generations excited much opposition from those of us who support an equal Australia and in particular some form of restitution for Aboriginal peoples who have suffered so deeply as a result

of being treated as outsiders in their own country. It was great to wear this badge as tribute to the success of the 1967 struggle for equal rights, and in the hope there’ll be many more successes to follow.