The symbolism behind recognising Aboriginal people in the constitution shouldn’t be mistaken as some lofty or empty ideal with no effect on real people and real communities. Until the possibility of this moment, we have grown up an Australian society that has not recognised Australian indigenous people as genuine or valued citizens. There is almost a sense of hoping we would fade away. We come from a history of colonisation that has denigrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture -- a history where we were painted as savages, as less than human.

Over past decades a process has been under way of indigenous cultural renaissance through decolonising ourselves and reclaiming and reconstructing our cultural identity. The struggle for survival and to be recognised as human, and for indigenous people to name themselves and their realities is a continuing concern. To be recognised as different but equal is not a privilege many of us have experienced.