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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has turned to US basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal to help garner support for a referendum on changing the constitution to create an indigenous representative body in parliament.

“Shaq is someone who is well known to young people, and one of the things we have been doing is trying to build support for the voice in parliament by talking to sports figures,” Albanese said in Sydney on Saturday. . “Mr. O’Neal does a lot of work in the United States on social justice and the advancement of marginalized people, including through sports organizations.

Last month, Albanese promised to hold a poll by the end of his first term in 2025 on the so-called voice in parliament to improve the lives of Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders. Indigenous Australians make up around 3.2% of the population and are on average the poorest and most disadvantaged group in the country.

READ: An Indigenous voice in parliament is long overdue: Rebecca Jones

Referendums are a tool rarely used in Australia, which has held 44 since federation. Most of them failed to win support and the prime minister acknowledged the risks.

“There is always a risk,” Albanese said. “It will improve the nation. It will improve our self-confidence in how we see ourselves, but it will also improve how we are perceived by the world.

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