By Justin McCaul, National Program Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Program Australia’s Constitution took effect in 1901. Since then, the few references to Aboriginal Peoples in our founding document have not protected them from discrimination. And as for Torres Strait Islander Peoples, they haven’t been mentioned at all. The debate about removing the remaining powers that have been used to discriminate against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and replacing these with a text that protects against any further loss of our unique Indigenous cultures, has been going on for decades. Since the 1970s, a parallel (and at times interconnected) debate has also been promoted by a variety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and leaders on the issues of sovereignty and a treaty. As if that wasn’t enough to spur the debate over recognition, the lack of action on these issues has also been noted by the international community, which has regularly raised concerns about Australia’s upholding of Indigenous rights (or rather, its lack thereof). The issue has come to a head in recent years. And since 2010, Oxfam has been working alongside Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations and the 250,000 Australians that now support the “Recognise” campaign to help ensure our Constitution gets the scrutiny it deserves. Unfortunately, the issue of constitutional recognition has sparked quite a bit of confusion and misinformation about what recognition would (and wouldn’t) actually mean for Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. Then there are the widely rebuked comments made recently by the Prime Minister about how the process of recognition should be undertaken. Sadly, too many of these comments have served only to distract and undermine the process. Debate is fundamental to working through this issue, but it’s only helpful when we have a proper understanding of the facts and a respect for a process that is ultimately controlled by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.