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PM and Shorten pledge recognition support

AAP logoAAP 3/08/2016 By Elise Scott

Pretty much all sides of politics agree that indigenous constitutional recognition should happen. But no one is able to answer when and how.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten met in Sydney on Thursday to discuss including indigenous Australians in the nation's birth certificate.

The government and Labor are waiting for the recommendations from the Referendum Council - which was appointed last year to consult on the change - before committing to a date or format.

What's up for debate is how much to alter the constitution, with some calling for the document to prohibit racial discrimination and others wanting a symbolic mention of indigenous Australians.

A referendum was expected to be held in May next year.

That date would be preferable to Mr Shorten in an "ideal world" but the opposition leader isn't prepared to bind himself to it.

Mr Turnbull has also avoided being drawn on when it might be held.

The Greens support constitutional recognition but also want treaties with indigenous Australians.

"If we are to truly reconcile with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, then we do need to recognise the great injustices, the great wrongs that have occurred in the past," leader Richard Di Natale told reporters in Melbourne.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon, whose influence is expected to be felt heavily in the upper house after he won three senate seats, pledged to campaign for recognition.

"We need to see the final form of the question but the broad principle is unambiguously yes."

The United Nations has again warned Australia over its treatment of children behind bars in the Northern Territory.

Alvaro Pop, chair of the UN's permanent forum on indigenous issues, and Australian forum member Professor Megan Davis, issued a statement on Thursday to "categorically reject and denounce the brutalising treatment" of children at Darwin's Don Dale detention centre.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has fended off continued calls for his resignation over his failure to act on reports of the abuse months before the footage aired on ABC.

The minister admitted his department could have done better at briefing him on reports about the abuse instead of assuming another jurisdiction would deal with it.

Mr Turnbull defended his minister on Thursday, saying criticism was merely a part of political life.

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