Reconciliation Australia: The State of Reconciliation in Australia

Fifteen years after the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation presented the Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation, Reconciliation Australia has released their inaugural The State of Reconciliation in Australia report and Summary Report.

Twenty-five years after the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (CAR), this report examines the state of reconciliation in Australia in 2016. The report uses a five dimensional framework of reconciliation to measure and analyse Australia’s progress over this time and set out a roadmap for a reconciled Australia. The intention is to spark a renewed national conversation about how, over the next 25 years, we can move towards becoming a reconciled, just and equitable Australia.

Featured image credit: The Age 2016, at the launch of the State of Reconciliation Report


Reconciliation Australia Limited

Reconciliation Australia was established in 2001 as the national expert body on reconciliation in Australia. Reconciliation Australia was established following the disbandment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (CAR) in 2000.

It is a Commonwealth constituted not-for-profit organisation.
The object of Reconciliation Australia is to give effect to the Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation (see above) through building an equitable, just and reconciled nation, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples participate equally and equitably in all areas of life, experience respectful relationships and have their history accepted in our nation’s story


CAR: Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation

In National Reconciliation Week 2000, the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation presented this Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation: Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation.

“We, the peoples of Australia, of many origins as we are, make a commitment to go on together in a spirit of reconciliation. We value the unique status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the original owners and custodians of lands and waters. We recognise this land and its waters were settled as colonies without treaty or consent. Reaffirming the human rights of all Australians, we respect and recognise continuing customary laws, beliefs and traditions.

Through understanding the spiritual relationship between the land and its first peoples, we share our future and live in harmony. Our nation must have the courage to own the truth, to heal the wounds of its past so that we can move on together at peace with ourselves. Reconciliation must live in the hearts and minds of all Australians. Many steps have been taken, many steps remain as we learn our shared histories.

As we walk the journey of healing, one part of the nation apologises and expresses its sorrow and sincere regret for the injustices of the past, so the other part accepts the apologies and forgives. We desire a future where all Australians enjoy their rights, accept their responsibilities, and have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. And so, we pledge ourselves to stop injustice, overcome disadvantage, and respect that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the right to self-determination within the life of the nation. Our hope is for a united Australia that respects this land of ours; values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage; and provides justice and equity for all.”

CAR: National Roadmap towards Reconciliation


Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation

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