MS 4166

1967 Referendum Survey


This material is available to be read, but names must not be used in publications. A reasonable portion may be copied for the personal information of the user. [Access code: A1 B1]

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Scope and Content Note

Date range: 1997

Extent: 8.5 cm (1 box)

Kath Schilling and Dale Edwards deposited this collection in the AIATSIS Library in February 2000.

The papers are arranged in the order in which they were received. Some of the papers are photocopies.

The small collection contains a paper 'The 1967 referendum: Indigenous memories and perspectives' by Dale Edwards and Kath Schilling and a set of questionnaires used in a survey on which this paper was based. The survey was undertaken in 1997, 30 years after the referendum and as part of Reconciliation celebrations. There are also a few letters associated with the survey.

Short oral histories on the referendum by some of the respondents to this survey can be found in The 1967 referendum or, When Aborigines didn't get the vote, by Bain Attwood and Andrew Markus in collaboration with Dale Edwards and Kath Schilling (Canberra, 1997), held by the AIATSIS Library at B A886.52/N1.

For a complete listing of material about the 1967 Referendum material held by the Institute see the Mura online catalogue.

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Background Note

A referendum to change the Australian Constitution was held in Australia on 27 May 1967 on two proposals relating to Aborigines, both of which were passed by a large majority. The first was the deletion of the words 'other than the Aboriginal race in any State', from Section 51, paragraph xxvi of the Constitution. The deletion of these words handed the power to legislate for Aboriginal people to the Commonwealth. The second proposal was the repeal of Section 127, its repeal making it possible for Aboriginal people to be counted in the national census.

In the 30th anniversary year of this referendum Kath Schilling and Dale Edwards undertook an Australia wide survey on the referendum. Questions asked included 'What do you think the 1967 Reference meant in 1967?', 'At the time did you think the 1967 Referendum achieved anything?', 'What do you remember about the 1967 Referendum?', 'Did the 1967 Referendum make any difference in your life?' and 'Does the Referendum mean anything to you now?' Respondents were also asked if they knew they could vote in the referendum, and if so, did they vote, as well as their age, where they were, and what they were doing in 1967. Responses came from around Australia, and the ages of the respondents varied widely.

From the responses received a sample was chosen to use for the paper 'The 1967 referendum: Indigenous memories and perspectives', by Dale Edwards and Kath Schilling.


'The 1967 referendum: Indigenous memories and perspectives, by Dale Edwards and Kath Schilling'. Canberra, 1997

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 Finding Aid compiled by J. Churches, November 2002