• Mark Yettica-Paulson. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
Aboriginal community leader Mark Yettica-Paulson has been appointed as the new joint Campaign Director for RECOGNISE. NITV News spoke to Mark about his new role and how he plans to move forward as a nation.
By
Laura Morelli

7 Sep 2016 - 6:09 PM  UPDATED 7 Sep 2016 - 6:10 PM

Recognition of Australia's First peoples in the constitution may sound straight forward - according to opinion polls it has widespread support among the Australian population; but it's not that simple.

The process is slow and the concept is still undefined and there is resistance among some sections of the Indigenous population. All the while the push of a treaty gains momentum. 

Recognise is the body tasked with raising awareness of the constitution and the push for change. It's appointed a new joint campaign director to replace Tanya Hosch, Mark Yettica-Paulson, who has been an ambassador since 2013 and says he's supportive of any process that helps us move forward. 

"I believe treaty and constitutional recognition is part of that same pathway - to move forward."

"I see them both craft a conversation that helps us to move forward as a nation"

"I want to use the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum as an opportunity for us to say look at where we have come so far, and how we move from there is so important"

NITV: In your new role as Joint Campaign Director for Recognise, what plans do you have for the organisation?

MY: It comes in two responses, but one is to maintain the hard work that Tanya Hosch did in this role, but it is also to maintain the momentum that we have and push for a successful referendum. So for us its business as usual. We really just want to seize the moment and push forward the campaign.

NITV: There have been some criticisms of the Recognise campaign in recent months, how are you going to handle the criticism?

MY: One of the ways we want to build on the campaign is to look for the great opportunities. There has been great usefulness of this campaign so far, there have been many conversations with the referendum council and there will be more, but the awareness of the recognise campaign is growing. The rate of awareness and support for constitutional recognition is very high. Our work with parliamentarians and the community is something that we are going to keep working toward further.

NITV: The referendum has had its date pushed back under the guise of a timeline change that will require further consultation, what are your thoughts on this date change?

MY: Well anything that is worth doing will require lots of time and the date will get closer and closer, so we can understand why the referendum council would want more time to work toward the referendum. 1967 was such an important date, so as we get closer to it, although the referendum wont be on that day next year, we should take stock of all that we have achieved on that date, but of course we want to go ahead with it as soon as we can. This parliament also will provide us with a great opportunity to move forward, with indigenous parliamentarians in the parliament, we are confident that we can in consultation with them, but also with the referendum council to find an appropriate date that will bring a positive result.

NITV: What have your thoughts on the Recognise campaign been? Is there anything new and exciting we should be watching out for?

MY: The work of Recognise has been great for engagement across Australia, we have travelled 35000 kms around the nation, where we have raised great awareness for constitutional recognition. I think we have been very successful with this, Tanya Hosch and Tim Gartrells work has been great, and I want to build on this with young Australians. We have young advocates around the country that want to see change, and we want to build toward this with them and help share the excitement with them.

RELATED ARTICLE:
Explainer: What is a treaty?
A look at what a treaty is and how the adoption of a treaty might change the political landscape for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.