The nation will vote on constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians by June next year, the federal minister responsible hopes.
Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt has mapped out a timeline for the proposed referendum which will be underpinned by legislation to be introduced by the end of this year, The Australian reported on Thursday.
The referendum will ask Australian voters whether the constitution should recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Mr Wyatt wants the referendum to occur well clear of the next federal election, which must be held before September 2022.
"(The) very critical and important issue of constitutional recognition needs its own oxygen and its own space," he told the newspaper.
Mr Wyatt is also working on models for an indigenous voice, which he hopes to finalise before the referendum on constitutional recognition.
The government has rejected the idea outlined in the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart that an indigenous voice be enshrined in the constitution.
Instead, it would be legislated and empowered to work with local, state, territory and federal government.
Mr Wyatt is hopeful the indigenous community won't be divided despite the voice not being enshrined in the constitution.
"If there is a division amongst indigenous Australians then an opportunity will be lost," he said.
"We are going to have some strong opponents (to constitutional recognition)."
Indigenous leaders Marcia Langton and Tom Calma are leading a senior advisory group due to propose models for the voice by June this year.
They're working alongside a 16-member group of experts.
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.