SENIOR indigenous leader Pat Dodson has called on the Abbott government to retain the Racial Discrimination Act as is, and urged action on constitutional recognition of Australia's first peoples.
The leader, known as the Father of Reconciliation, gave the prestigious Lowitja O'Donoghue Oration this week, coinciding with National Reconciliation Week.
He called on the government to abandon its proposed changes to the discrimination act, on grounds the current protections against racist attacks were "modest".
Mr Dodson also told ABC Radio the push for recognition of indigenous peoples in the Constitution was a "great moment", and was not just about Australia, but how overseas people saw Australia's treatment of indigenous people.
"It's a bit irresponsible of us not to take responsibility (for recognition)," he said.
"I'm optimistic that the Australian public understands why there should be constitutional recognition and why there should be non-discrimination clauses in our Constitution."