State Library commemorates 50 years since 1967 Referendum

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The 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum will be commemorated at a special community day at South Bank's State Library of Queensland (SLQ) on Saturday, 27 May.

On 27 May 1967, Australia voted overwhelmingly for constitutional change to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the national census for the first time.

Deputy Premier and Member for South Brisbane Jackie Trad, Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch, and Minister for Local Government and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Mark Furner will join the community for the 50 Years and Counting event.

Ms Enoch said the result of the 1967 Referendum was a major milestone in Australian and Indigenous history.

“The outcome of the referendum not only improved the services available to Indigenous people, it was also a major step towards achieving better rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and recognition that Indigenous issues were considered at a national level,” Ms Enoch said.

“This anniversary provides us with a chance to reflect on how far we have come as a nation, but also allows us to consider how we move forward into the future to ensure that all are recognised equally.”

Mr Furner said 90.77 per cent of Australians voted yes for change in 1967.

“To this day, it’s the highest yes vote ever recorded in a federal referendum and demonstrates the strong sentiment that had swept the nation,” Mr Furner said.

“The resounding yes was just two years after Queensland became the last Australian jurisdiction to give Indigenous people the right to vote in state elections.

“I know many younger Queenslanders will find it hard to believe that just a half a century ago, Indigenous Australians officially didn’t count,” he said.

SLQ will acknowledge this significant occasion with a free public day of reflection, commemoration and conversation featuring a keynote address by Dr Chelsea Bond, TENT talks in Richard Bell’s Tent Embassy, and guided tours of SLQ’s exhibitions Freedom Then, Freedom Now and Don’t Just Count Us, Let Us Count!.

Dr Bond is a Munanjali and South Sea Islander woman and senior lecturer at the University of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, and an affiliate member of UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.

She will share personal and family stories about the significance of the 1967 Referendum in her keynote address.

State Librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald said SLQ is committed to engaging, sharing and learning from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the broader community.

“The State Library is for all Queenslanders from all backgrounds, and we are proud to hold an event where everyone is encouraged to reflect upon such a significant milestone for Indigenous Australians,” Ms McDonald said.

50 Years and Counting will be held from 10am to 4pm on 27 May. To register and for more information visit

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

Leeanne Enoch MP : Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts :
07 3719 7270
Leeanne Enoch MP : Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts
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