Under the radar of the carbon tax repeal and the re-opening of the marriage debate, bi-partisan support for recognising indigenous people in the constitution was expressed in Parliament this week.



A joint select committee interim report was quietly tabled as part of what is dubbed a "national conversation".



As far back as 2007, former Prime Minister John Howard recommended a referendum to recognise indigenous people in the constitution.



His aim was to further reconciliation.



Labor in Government set up an expert panel in 2010 which took public submissions and made recommendations.



ACL made a submission at the time expressing in-principle support for constitutional recognition.



The new Abbott Government has also committed itself to a referendum but the timing and wording of any referendum question is yet to be decided.



The committee, which is chaired by Liberal and indigenous MP Ken Wyatt, also recommended removing sections of the constitution that are deemed to be racist.



The joint select committee will continue to hold consultation meetings around the nation and must report again before June 2015.



This is not a quick process.



Running parallel with the parliamentary committee process, is a government review of public support for recognising indigenous people in the constitution.



The former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson has been appointed to chair the review panel which must report by September this year.



The Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister, Shayne Neumann gave a 10 minute speech in the Parliament this week about the issue.







Now that both sides of Parliament have committed to holding a referendum, it is almost impossible to turn back.



The next 12 months will be crucial in crafting a referendum question that has enough public support to jump the high bar of majority support in a majority of states required by a referendum.



It will be important that any referendum question unites Australians of all race backgrounds and does not divide us.



This will be a delicate exercise and one we should all approach with good will.



Constitutional recognition can't solve some of the very difficult practical problems faced by our fellow citizens of indigenous background.



But reconciliation of people to one another, regardless of race, is a good thing.



There just may be an opportunity here to further this process.



I urge everyone to follow this closely and discuss it with friends.



ACL will continue to follow the process closely and keep supporters informed.