Constitutional reform: FAQs - About the Australian Constitution
- About the Australian Constitution
- What is the Australian Constitution?
- How do we amend the constitution?
- Do other countries recognise Indigenous peoples in their constitutions?
- Why reform of the Constitution is needed
- The benefits of reforming the Constitution
- Towards a successful referendum
About the Australian Constitution
What is the Australian Constitution?
The Australian Constitution is the founding document of our nation and pre-eminent source of law in the country. The Constitution sets down the powers of each of our three branches of governance – the Parliament, the Executive and the Courts. It creates the space in which all other domestic laws operate in this country. Politically, the Constitution was intended to unite Australia under the original and continuing agreement of the Australian people.
How do we amend the constitution?
The Australian Constitution can only be altered by referendum. In a referendum, all Australians of voting age vote yes or no for the proposed changes. To succeed, a majority of voters nationwide and a majority of States (four out of six) must approve the changes.
For more information visit the Australian Electoral Commission website: http://www.aec.gov.au/Elections/referendums/Referendums_Overview.htm
Do other countries recognise Indigenous peoples in their constitutions?
Yes. Other countries recognise the unique status of their first peoples within their nation’s founding documents.
The Canadian Constitution was amended in 1982 and 1983 to recognise 'aboriginal rights'. In Norway, in 1988 the Norwegian Parliament passed an amendment to the Constitution recognising Sami constitutional rights.
In addition the Queensland, NSW and Victorian state Constitutions recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.