Right to be Counted PDF Print E-mail

Right to be Counted

A defining moment in human rights for Indigenous Australians, the 1967 referendum determined whether to adjust two key phrases in the Australian Constitution. A ‘Yes’ vote would remove from the section 51 of the Constitution the words: ‘other than the aboriginal people in any state for whom it is necessary to make special laws’; and remove the entire section 127: ‘In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State of other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives should not be counted.’ The verdict, a 90.77 per cent said ‘Yes’, resulted in Indigenous Australians legally considered equal Australians, able to move around the country freely and legally share the rights of other Australians.

To create Right to be Counted Tobias photographed participants in a space of their choice; then he photographed the same space without the person occupying it. Following this, the participants used a leather awl to write their thoughts about the 1967 referendum into the negative of the empty space.