• Noel Pearson speaks to the media in the press gallery at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. (AAP)Source: AAP
There will be Indigenous only conventions in the lead up to any referendum on constitutional recognition of our people.
By
Jodan Perry

Source:
NITV News
20 Aug 2015 - 5:06 PM  UPDATED 20 Aug 2015 - 5:12 PM

Only a matter of weeks ago the Prime Minister rejected the idea, but after a meeting with the authors of the proposal – Noel Pearson, Pat Dodson, Kirstie Parker and Megan Davis, there is a more conciliatory proposal on offer.

Founder of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, Noel Pearson, says this change of attitude is a step forward for Indigenous people.

"Over the next twelve months there will be a referendum council oversighting the process of national consultation which will include the program of Indigenous consultation that we originally proposed," he said.

"the outcome we got in our meeting with the prime minister today has been very positive"

"There will be parallel mainstream conferences and so on, with the wider Australian community but the outcome we got in our meeting with the prime minister today has been very positive."

Yawuru Traditional Owner Pat Dodson was also pleased with the progress that has been made.

"it gives some clarity about the necessity for Indigenous peoples to be given the opportunity to have their say in this matter"

"I think there's been a win for us, and it gives some clarity about the necessity for Indigenous peoples to be given the opportunity to have their say in this matter," he said.

The Prime Minister copped backlash for his initial rejection of the proposal, but said his decision to meet with the leaders was not an 'about face'.

The timing of his decision to re-open these discussions seems convenient, given that he is about to spend a week in the Torres Strait, as part of his pre-election promise to engage in remote parts of Australia and deal with Indigenous issues from the ground up.

With his decision to incorporate Indigenous people into the process, the question is now around the makeup of these meetings.

Co-chair for the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples Kirstie Parker says the four leaders have come up with an initial model for the conferences.

"We've proposed a series of gatherings … where there is a very good spread, and the best spread that we can achieve geographically of our people," she said.

"We want to give an opportunity for as many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to participate in that process as possible, and at the end of that regional process that there be some sort of coming together to hopefully arrive at a broadly consensus position out of our communities."