Understanding Reconciliation


“Reconciliation is a long and many layered process, its meaning complex and multi-faceted. Reconciliation means knowing this country’s history and acknowledging the bad as well as the good. It means understanding and embracing difference, of language, of culture, of Law. Reconciliation is about ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have their rights as the first peoples of this nation properly recognised and that recognition of those rights ensures them the same life chances as other Australians. Reconciliation is about acknowledging the wrongs of the past and pledging as a nation to right them.” 

 - Former Chair of NSW State Reconciliation Committee, Linda Burney, 1999

Reconciliation is a multi-layered process. At its core, it is about addressing the divisions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians – divisions that have been caused by a lack of respect, knowledge and understanding.

Reconciliation is about recognising the truth of Australia’s history, and moving forward together with a commitment to social justice, and building relationships based on mutual understanding, respect and trust.

Social justice for Indigenous Australians must include: recognition of the distinct rights of Indigenous Australians as the first peoples of this land, including the right to self determination; reparations for past injustices, elimination of racism and discrimination, and closing the gaps in health, social and economic outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Achieving reconciliation involves raising awareness and knowledge of Indigenous history and culture, changing attitudes that are often based on myths and misunderstandings, and encouraging action where everyone plays their part in building a better relationship between us as fellow Australians.

Different communities across the country have been inspired to act and to organise activities and events to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians together. As more individuals have become engaged and involved, the groundswell of support has become known as the People’s Reconciliation Movement.

Read the Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation.

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