20 Jul 2015

Symbolic change not enough for Australian first people

7:47 am on 20 July 2015

Torres Strait Islanders say they will not give up their fight for recognition in Australia's constitution.

Thursday Island in Torres Strait, Papua New Guinea

Torres Strait Islanders say they are happy to have had a meeting with Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten, but it was only a first step. Photo: Feral Arts

The islands' indigenous leaders last week joined aboriginal leaders in a meeting with Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott and opposition leader Bill Shorten, seeking the removal of what they say are discriminatory clauses in the constitution.

The co-chair of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, Kirstie Parker, says the meeting was both encouraging and disappointing, but the fact it was held at all was an important step.

"We have a right to information. We have a right to determine amongst ourselves what we think will be the best way forward. The way forward that actually respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and as I say makes this a meaningful process or otherwise."

Kirstie Parker says one of the good things was the show of bipartisanship from both major parties to tackle the issue.