Governor General David Hurley warns a 'no' vote in a referendum on constitutional recognition of Indigenous peoples could mean the opportunity is lost forever.
Governor-General David Hurley says Australia must move quickly to secure constitutional recognition of Australia's first peoples through a referendum or the opportunity may be lost.
Attending the Garma Festival of Traditional Cultures in northeast Arnhem Land, General Hurley says a referendum has been put on the table in this term of the federal government.
"Three years in the cycle of the country is a very short time, so we need to move fairly quickly," he told ABC television on Saturday.
He recognises there are difficult issues to get through but says the community has to part of it in a frank, respectful discussion.
"History is, if we vote no (in a referendum) they're are either very slow to resurface or they don't resurface," he warned.
One problem is that a lot of people still don't understand Aboriginal culture.
"We're getting to it in our schools and so forth, but it's slow and where the issues that are on the table at the moment, I think it is important to be more aware of what Aboriginal culture is as your are talking about the issues," he said.