At the most basic level, for Indigenous peoples, social justice means that our lives will not be dominated by a foreign rule of law which fails to adequately support or take into account our unique identities and aspirations. It means that our voices will enter into a dialogue from which all peoples in a society negotiate the type of society they live in.
Professor Mick Dodson, Co-Chair Reconciliation Australia
Social justice is about making sure that every Australian - Indigenous and non-Indigenous - has choices about how they live and the means to make those choices.
Social justice is grounded in the practical, day-to-day realities of life. It’s about waking up in a house with running water and proper sanitation; offering one’s children an education that helps them develop their potential and respect their culture. It is the prospect of satisfying employment and good health.
Social justice also means recognising the distinctive rights that Indigenous Australians hold as the original peoples of this land, including:
Self determination is an ‘on going process of choice’ to ensure that Indigenous communities are able to meet their social, cultural and economic needs. It is not about creating a separate Indigenous ‘state’.
The right to self determination is based on the simple acknowledgment that Indigenous peoples are Australia’s first people, recognised by law in the historic Mabo judgement.
The loss of this right to live according to a set of common values and beliefs, and to have that right respected by others, is at the heart of the current disadvantage experienced by Indigenous Australians. Without self-determination it is not possible for Indigenous Australians to fully overcome the legacy of colonisation and dispossession.
For more information see our Social Justice and Indigenous Rights Resources.