Aboriginal groups will rally in Canberra on Wednesday to mark the five year anniversary of the government’s apology to the stolen generations, as federal parliament resumes debate on an Act of Recognition of indigenous people.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill 2012 was introduced as an interim measure after the federal government shelved plans in September to hold a referendum on the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal people.
The Act of Recognition is seen as a stepping stone towards constitutional change.
"No gesture speaks more deeply to the healing of our nation’s fabric than amending our nation’s founding charter," Prime Minister Julia Gillard said during the reading of the Bill in parliament on Wednesday morning.
Aboriginal leader and social justice commissioner Mick Gooda said he hopes the bill will pass without opposition on what is a day of great significance - the fifth anniversary since then-prime minister Kevin Rudd apologised to members of the stolen generation.
‘‘Unanimous support for the Act would be a demonstration of goodwill and commitment from all parties to furthering progress towards a referendum,’’ Mr Gooda said in a statement.
But the Aboriginal Tent Embassy has said it will hold a rally outside Parliament House from 8.30am to protest the legislation, which it describes as “tokenistic”.
An ACT Policing spokeswoman said police were aware of rallies happening around Parliament House.
Events are being held around the nation today to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Mr Rudd’s apology.
A concert will be held from 5.30pm to 10pm on the lawns of Parliament House, hosted by singer Christine Anu and actor Luke Carroll and featuring Archie Roach, Dan Sultan, The Last Kinnection, and others.
Federation Mall West and the Federation Mall car parks will be closed from 6am to 11.30pm on Wednesday.
At the National Press Club, Tanya Hosch and Jason Glanville will give a talk at 11.30am titled 'Recognition: why it's right'.