As teammates, whose lockers sit side by side within the inner sanctum of the Sydney Swans, Lance Franklin and Dane Rampe already share a special bond. Such is the friendship that the No. 23 inspired the No. 24 to join Sydney’s Reconciliation Action Plan Committee, to lead the way in promoting equality and justice for the First Australians.
When the Swans run out against Hawthorn in Marn Grook at the SCG on Friday night, Franklin and Rampe will swap their treasured numbers in a tribute to a change that took place 50 years ago. Rampe will wear the No. 50 and Franklin will wear the No. 67, to represent 50 years since the 1967 referendum.
The landmark 1967 referendum ensured Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were counted equally as citizens under section 127 of the Constitution, meaning they were finally acknowledged in the nation’s census and the federal government could make laws for them.
Although not of Indigenous heritage, Dane Rampe is keen to do his bit to raise awareness.
"It is obviously 50 years since the 1967 referedum and that was when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were included in the census," Rampe said.
"Me wearing the number 50 is the playing group's way of showing their support with Buddy also wearing the number 67."
For Lance Franklin, a proud Noongar-Wajuk man whose ancestors hail from south-west Western Australia, wearing 67 is about much more than paying tribute to the past.
“1967 is a significant year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and I feel very privileged to wear the number 67 on Friday night,” Franklin said.
“It will obviously get a lot of people talking, asking why I’m wearing the 67, and it’s for recognising when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were recognised in the census.
“It’s really about starting a conversation and to honour the significance of the occasion.”
The “conversation” Franklin refers to is the Recognise movement, which is pushing for another referendum to further reform the Constitution so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are recognised as the First Australians.
The movement has reached a crucial stage, with more than 200 delegates from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Australia gathering near Uluru this week for a historic meeting. They’re seeking to form a consensus position on constitutional recognition, which will be presented to government next month in the Referendum Council final report.
In support of the Recognise campaign, Swans players will wear the “R” symbol on their guernseys in Friday’s Marn Grook match. Swans champion Adam Goodes has been a staunch supporter of the campaign and has welcomed league-wide support through the AFL’s Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round.
“It is important to Indigenous players this round, as it’s a celebration of who we are and our contribution,” Goodes said.
“I think even more so this year because it is the 50-year anniversary of the referendum, which is fantastic to celebrate that.
“It’s a celebration, but it is also still for some people out there an education about what happened not only 50 years ago, but before that, for Indigenous people.”
The final referendum proposal for recognition could be put to voters next year.