State steps toward reconciliation

SOUTH Australians will have the final say on whether Aboriginal people should be recognised in the State's Constitution after Parliament passed a recommendation to that effect a fortnight ago.

State politicians gave their approval to constitutional amendments that would record the 1997 apology to the stolen generation, recognise South Australia's first peoples and their traditional ownership of the land and waters, and acknowledge the injustices they have endured.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the Bill's passage through Parliament was a significant step towards reconciliation between the descendants of the first South Australians and those whose ancestors had arrived since 1836.

"This recognition does not, and cannot, reduce every wrong that Aboriginal South Australians have endured as a result of European settlement, but it is a landmark in the process," he said.

"All South Australians can be proud of what we are doing to achieve greater reconciliation."

Reconciliation Minister Ian Hunter thanked those who were involved in the movement towards constitutional recognition.

"The changes are long overdue and the end result is of profound importance," he said.

But, in a blog post, Adelaide Law School lecturer Matthew Stubbs noted the recognition was symbolic and would not alter the legal position of Aboriginal peoples.

"The more significant question for the future will be whether legally effective, rather than symbolic, recognition of Aboriginal peoples should be used to further advance the process of reconciliation in South Australia," he said.

The State Government plans to celebrate the achievement at a ceremony to be held in the near future.