Aboriginal leaders say they are more optimistic than ever that Australians will embrace the idea to hold a referendum to establish an Indigenous voice to parliament.

A special Q&A panel at the Garma festival in north-east Arnhem Land addressed issues of constitutional reform, social inequality and language preservation.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said fear of the unknown was driving resistance to the idea, proposed at the Uluru constitutional convention in May.

He urged detractors to “take a chill pill”.

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