Indigenous constitutional debate comes to Warrnambool

THE national push to gain constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples will gather momentum in Warrnambool tomorrow.

A 20-strong panel appointed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been travelling across the country to gauge opinions and stimulate talks on the initiative, which has the in-principle support of the government and opposition.

South-west residents can contribute to the discussion at an event at Lady Bay Resort tomorrow.

When the constitution was drafted in the 1890s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples did not take part and the only mention of them was exclusion.

The panel ? made up of indigenous and non-indigenous leaders, legal experts and members of Parliament ? has found very strong support for constitutional recognition. Many Australians now believe the constitution should be changed to reflect modern society, with 88 per cent of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples surveyed labelling it as a top priority.

A survey of 2100 members of GenerationOne, a movement to end disparity between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, found 98 per cent supported the initiative.

The panel will report to the government in December with proposed options for change that are likely to have the best chance of success at a referendum.

To succeed, the referendum must attract the support of a majority vote nationally, and a majority of votes in a majority of states.

Panel member Henry Burmester will lead talks at Lady Bay Resort in Warrnambool from 11am tomorrow.

People can also write a letter, email a submission or contribute on the website at