Australian Aboriginal leader threatened ahead of referendum on Indigenous rights
Australian Aboriginal leader threatened ahead of referendum on Indigenous rights
Australian Aboriginal leader threatened ahead of referendum on Indigenous rights
by DZRH News05 October 2023
FILE PHOTO: People rally during the 'Walk for Yes', hosted by the Yes23 campaign Australia's upcoming referendum on Indigenous issues, at the Todd River in Alice Springs, Australia, September 17, 2023. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy/ File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Indigenous senator in Australia was targeted with threats and racial abuses in a video on social media, just days before the country votes in a referendum on whether to constitutionally recognise its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people.

Australians will vote on Oct 14, asked if they support a change to the constitution to include a "Voice to Parliament", an Indigenous committee to advise parliament on matters affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people.

A video published online showed a man in a balaclava claiming to be from a neo-Nazi group, burning the Aboriginal flag, performing a Nazi salute, and threatening Senator Lidia Thorpe.

"Where is my support? Where is my protection in this country?" Thorpe asked during a news conference in Melbourne.


"I'm not hiding for the next nine days. You are going to hear from me. I’m not scared," she said.

The video has since been taken down. Australian Federal Police (AFP) said it was investigating the matter.

Racist threats against Aboriginal people, accounting for just about 3.8% of the population, has been growing in the lead up to the referendum, fuelled by misinformation and fear about the "Yes" campaign.

Thorpe is campaigning for a "No" vote and calling for a treaty between the government and Indigenous people first, similar to what exists in New Zealand and Canada.


Supporters of the Voice referendum, the "Yes" campaigners, say the proposal unites the nation and give much-needed recognition to the 65,000 year-old Aboriginal culture, while the opposite "No" campaigners either argue that it hands excessive powers to the Indigenous body or that it will be toothless.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was contacted by Thorpe and he responded on the first opportunity, and also spoke to the police.

"I've seen the video that was referred to that is threatening towards Senator Thorpe and towards the government, and the sort of Nazi rhetoric and statements that are in that video have no place in the discourse in Australian political life," Albanese said, when asked about the matter at a news conference later in the day.

Aboriginal people track below national averages on most socio-economic measures and suffer disproportionately high rates of suicide, domestic violence and imprisonment. Their life expectancy is about eight years lower than non-Indigenous people.


(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Michael Perry)

Related Topics
listen Live
DZRH News Live Streaming
Most Read