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Settlement next on recognition agenda

AAP logoAAP 31/07/2016 Neda Vanovac

Australians shouldn't run screaming when a treaty with indigenous people is mentioned, Labor leader Bill Shorten says.

Constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians was on the agenda at the Garma Festival in Arnhem Land this weekend, with some advocating for a treaty instead and others calling for indigenous groups to settle individually with the government.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Mick Gooda said he didn't believe Australia would be ready for a referendum by next May, the 50th anniversary of the historic 1967 referendum.

Mr Shorten said May remained his preference, but the referendum council was taking longer to consult, which could affect timing.

But a successful referendum wouldn't be a panacea, he told reporters in Arnhem Land.

"It shouldn't be beyond the wit and wisdom of our nation to be able to recognise our first Australians in the nation's official birth certificate, but that is not in and of itself going to resolve every issue of the last 200 years," he said.

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