The Referendum Council called for the adoption of a symbolic statement of recognition that does not form part of the Constitution but which unifies all Australians.
The need for a symbolic statement does not justify creating uncertainty in relation to the interpretation of the Constitution.
A symbolic statement about modern Australia’s Indigenous heritage, British institutions and multicultural achievement would help unify all Australians as part of the process of Indigenous recognition.
There are at least eight themes which a declaration of recognition might be expected to address.
When drafting the declaration, there should be a process, such as a drafting competition, that encourages a high level of participation from all sections of Australian society, so that the declaration embodies the will of the Australian people.
The declaration of recognition should not be adopted through ordinary legislation, but through a process that evinces participation of the Australian people and/or all the Australian legislatures.
The adoption of a declaration of recognition should be the capstone that provides symbolic recognition of modern Australia after implementing substantive reforms to recognise Indigenous peoples.
A declaration could be adopted either by amending the Australia Acts or by proclamation in response to a petition to Parliament.
Commonwealth and State parliaments may legislate in concert to amend the Australia Acts by inserting a new section 18 which recites the declaration of recognition.
The Commonwealth Parliament may legislate to authorise the Governor-General to issue a Proclamation adopting the declaration of recognition in response to a petition by the Australian people.