Amidst debate on constitutional recognition of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, this ANUPoll of Australian public opinion on Indigenous issues—the 17th ANUPoll—provides a snapshot of Australian attitudes towards Indigenous issues. It reveals that the majority of Australians recognise that Indigenous people continue to experience injustice and high levels of disadvantage, and that broad support exists for various forms of Indigenous recognition, like land rights, additional assistance and constitutional amendment.
Approximately half the Australian population views the problems experienced by Indigenous Australians as largely the result of the attitudes of other Australians and government policies and about one-third see responsibility as shared between these factors and Indigenous people themselves. Governments, universities and employers are all seen as having a role to play in providing additional assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in education and employment.
These attitudes provide a strong basis of support for proposed changes to the Constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. When asked whether they would support changes to the Australian Constitution to remove clauses referring to race, Australians showed strong support across age and geographic groups. There was also strong support for changes to the Constitution to recognise the continuing cultures, languages and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as a basis for Commonwealth law making.
The ANUPoll is designed to inform public and policy debate, as well as to assist scholarly research. It builds on the University’s long tradition of social survey research, which began in the 1960s. Today, it fulfils the University’s mission of addressing and contributing to issues of national importance.