In 1991, the Commonwealth Parliament showed vision, leadership and unity when it voted unanimously to establish the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and a formal reconciliation process. The Parliament noted that there had been no formal process of reconciliation to date, and that it was ‘most desirable that there be such a reconciliation’ by the year 2001, the centenary of Federation.

The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation was established as a statutory authority on 2 September 1991 when the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Act 1991 (no longer in operation) received the Royal Assent.CAR’s vision statement called for “A united Australia which respects this land of ours; values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage; and provides justice and equity for all.” Patrick Dodson, known as the ‘Father of Reconciliation’, was the first Chairperson of the CAR.

After a very extensive public consultation process, the Council drew up two documents of reconciliation: the Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation and the Roadmap for Reconciliation . At Corroboree 2000 on 27 May 2000, it presented these to the Prime Minister, other national leaders, and the nation as a whole.

At the end of the year 2000, the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation handed its final report to the national Parliament at a ceremonial event at Parliament House in Canberra. This letter contained in the report provides an overview of the decade-long work of the Council and a way forward for the nation to achieve reconciliation.

Featured image: Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Pat Dodson lights a candle with former prime minister Howard at a luncheon in the Great Hall of Parliament House to mark the start of Reconciliation week. Photo: Mike Bowers