Did Australia listen to Indigenous people on constitutional recognition? A big data analysis

John Parkinson*, Nuria Franco-Guillen, Sebastian de Laile

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper uses novel electronic tools to identify the degree to which Australia was listening to Indigenous peoples in a ‘national conversation’ about constitutional recognition between 2015 and late 2017. The results show that while there was a superficial overlap in themes, there were important differences of framing. Recognition remained a largely formal, elite and non-Indigenous concern, with First Nations focusing on treaties, sovereignty, listening and respect. Interaction was noticeably aggressive, but not exclusively so. Non-Indigenous people avoided discussing racism, and talked more frequently about history, framing issues in the past tense; First Nations talked about the here and now. And despite more focus on everyday racism, Indigenous peoples were consistently more positive and proud, rejecting ‘plight’ constructions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-40
Number of pages24
JournalAustralian Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
Early online dateDec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2022


  • Constitutional recognition
  • Indigenous politics
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • big data
  • democracy

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