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Referendum Day

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Referendum Results

The West Australian, May 29 1967, report on the Referendum results includes a photograph of George Abdullah, Jack Davies and Charles Pell recording the progress of the vote at the Aboriginal Centre in Beaufort Street, Perth.

Reproduced courtesy of The West Australian Newspapers Ltd.


I hope the Commonwealth sees it as meaning that the people of W.A. and of Australia want more done for Aborigines

E.C.Gare, President Aboriginal Advancement Council, The West Australian, 29 May 1967

The grant of power to the Commonwealth in relation to Aborigines which follows from the vote will enable it to play a useful part in ensuring justice and social acceptance for people of the Aboriginal race.

Hon. Harold Holt, Prime Minister of Australia, The West Australian, 29 May 1967

Australians voted overwhelmingly ‘Yes’ to remove the discriminatory words and limitations to Aboriginal people in the Constitution.  Despite this enthusiasm for change from across the Australian community, the every day lives of Aboriginal people remained the same.

The referendum did not grant any extra legal or political rights, did not cover land rights, it did not lessen discrimination nor were there any great improvements in health, housing or education services.

In Western Australia, Aboriginal people still had to apply for citizenship to a magistrate under the Natives Citizenship Rights Act of 1944. The Commonwealth continued to leave the running of Aboriginal affairs largely to the States. It was almost ten years later before the power given to the Commonwealth by the 1967 referendum was actually used by the Whitlam Government to make laws for the benefit of Aboriginal people.

WA Museum
Government of Western Australia