Uphold & Recognise

We are an Organisation of Australians

We are committed both to upholding the Australian Constitution and recognising Indigenous Australians. We believe that it is possible to develop measures that would fairly recognise Australia’s Indigenous peoples; help to enable better outcomes for them; and, at the same time, uphold the integrity of the Australian Constitution.

We are a non-profit organisation established in 2015 to promote discussion of how Australia can recognise Indigenous Australians without disturbing the way that the Constitution operates.

The organisation is committed to promoting its Charter. Charter signatories include:

  • Major General the Hon. Peter Arnison AC CVO (Ret’d)
  • Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO
  • Emeritus Professor the Hon. Peter Baume AC
  • Colin Carter AM
  • Professor Greg Craven AO
  • The Hon. John Fahey AC
  • Danny Gilbert AM
  • The Hon. Nick Greiner AC
  • Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK AFC (Ret’d)
  • Major General the Hon. Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC (Ret’d)
  • Malcolm Mackerras AO
  • The Hon. Dr Brendan Nelson AO
  • Julien O’Connell AM
  • The Hon. Andrew Robb AO
  • Sir David Smith KCVO AO
  • The Hon. Lloyd Waddy AM RFD QC

Participants from our public events include:

  • Rt Hon. the Lord Mayor of Melbourne Cr Robert Doyle
  • The Hon. Justice Arthur Emmett AO

  • Andrew Forrest AO

  • Stan Grant
  • Nolan Hunter
  • Thomas Keneally AO

  • The Hon. Jeff Kennett AC

  • Nyunggai Warren Mundine AM

  • Lieutenant Colonel Denise Oliver CSM

  • Noel Pearson

  • Rachel Perkins

  • The Hon. Christian Porter MP

  • Michael Rose AM

  • Professor Adrienne Stone

  • Tim Wilson MP

  • The Hon. Ben Wyatt MLA

Contact Us

Please refer all inquiries to: info@upholdandrecognise.com

About Recognition

Debates around recognition of indigenous Australians have come to focus around three issues:

  • Outdated terms used in section 25 (disqualification from voting on racial grounds) and section 51(xxvi) "the races power" of the Australian Constitution, and which it is argued ought to be removed from the Constitution; 
  • Adoption of symbolic language that properly acknowledges the experience and enduring significance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders for the nation; and
  • The need for indigenous Australians to ensure that their voice is heard in indigenous policy-making, so that past injustices are not repeated. 

We believe that it is important to remove outdated terms from the Constitution, and to develop a means of ensuring that indigenous voices are heard in the processes of Parliament. 

We also believe that it is possible to adopt a poetic and inspiring symbolic statement without changing the Constitution. 


Statement on Treaty Discussions

Sean Gordon, Chairman

18 May 2017

Uphold & Recognise was established in 2015 to provide a voice for the right and centre-right in discussions about recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution. It seeks to find common ground in this discussion, in the belief that the aspirations of Indigenous advocates can be realised in a way that also addresses the concerns of constitutional conservatives and classical liberals.

Aside from discussions about constitutional recognition, separate discussions about treaties have also arisen, particularly in response to initiatives of the Victorian and South Australian governments.  From time to time, there has been some overlap between the constitutional recognition and treaty discussions.

Uphold & Recognise is committed to its Charter for Upholding the Australian Constitution and Recognising Indigenous Australians.  The Charter is restricted to issues relating to constitutional recognition, and it identifies the approach to constitutional recognition that the organisation promotes.

Uphold & Recognise’s proposal for recognition involves four points:

  1. Repealing section 25 of the Constitution
  2. Replacing the races power with an Indigenous peoples power
  3. Adopting an extra-constitutional Australian Declaration of Recognition
  4. Ensuring that the voices of Indigenous people are heard in parliament’s processes

While we appreciate the importance that many Indigenous and non-Indigenous people attach to the treaty discussions, Uphold & Recognise does not have a formal position on this issue, and it does not seek to foster discussion about it.  Our remit is limited to finding common ground in the separate discussion about constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution.


The Forgotten People: Liberal and Conservative approaches to recognising indigenous peoples

Damien Freeman, Shireen Morris. Foreword by Noel Pearson.

The Forgotten People challenges the assumption that constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians is a project of the left in Australia. It demonstrates that there may be a set of reforms that can achieve the change sought by Indigenous leaders, while addressing the critical concerns of constitutional conservatives and classical liberals. More than that, this collection illustrates the genuine goodwill that many Australians, including Major General Michael Jeffrey, Cardinal George Pell, Chris Kenny, and Malcolm Mackerras, share for achieving Indigenous recognition that is practically useful and symbolically powerful.



The Australian Declaration of Recognition introduces a new proposal for recognising indigenous Australians. Sometimes we need to think about an old problem in a new way. In this essay, Damien Freeman and Julian Leeser argue that we should rethink our approach to indigenous recognition: instead of trying to insert some modest statement in the Constitution, we should consider adopting an Australian Declaration of Recognition, which would contain a powerful and poetic statement of the nation that Australia has become, and our aspirations for our nation’s future.




The Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians recommended that, in addition to any symbolic language inserted in the Constitution, two substantive changes needed to be made: 

  • first, provisions that the Panel deemed to be racist ought to be removed; and
  • secondly, the Panel proposed inserting a provision that prohibits racial discrimination

These issues are investigated in Noel Pearson's Quarterly Essay, A Rightful Place. Pearson argues that, rather than adopting a racial non-discrimination clause, we should consider creating an indigenous body that could advise the Parliament on indigenous matters. This way, it would be indigenous people, rather than the High Court, that tells the Parliament what is in the interests of indigenous people. 


A Rightful Place

Edited by Shireen Morris. Foreword by Galarrwuy Yunupingu.

Soon, we will all decide if and how Indigenous Australians will be recognised in the Constitution. In this book, several leading writers and thinkers provide a road map to recognition.

Starting with the Uluru Statement from the Heart, these eloquent essays show what constitutional recognition means and what it could make possible: a political voice, a fairer relationship and a renewed appreciation of an ancient culture. With remarkable clarity and power, they traverse law, history and culture to map the path to change.

The book includes an essay co-written by Damien Freeman (the co-founder of Uphold & Recognise) and Nolan Hunter.


Support Us

Uphold & Recognise is a self-funded not-for-profit organisation. For us to be an effective force in generating conservative support for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians, we urgently require donations from people who believe that generating real public support for such a cause is important. 

To register your support, fill out the form below. 

Name *
Address *