25 years on: Reconciliation a high priority in the 45th Parliament

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Reconciliation Australia today marks twenty-five years since the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (‘the Council’), and the formalisation of Australia’s reconciliation journey.

“It is an extra cause for celebration that the anniversary of the Council should come in the same week as the maiden speeches to Federal Parliament of Linda Burney MP and Senator Patrick Dodson”, said Reconciliation Australia CEO Justin Mohamed.

“Senator Dodson and Ms. Burney have both made extraordinary contributions to our reconciliation journey, in their roles at the Council and beyond. Ms Burney served as an executive member of the Council and Senator Dodson, widely acknowledged as the ‘father’ of reconciliation, served as founding chairman.”

Reconciliation will remain a high priority in the 45th Parliament, In her maiden speech, Ms. Burney emphasised that “fundamentally, reconciliation is about three things: it is about reciprocity; it is about restitution; and it is about truth telling.” Senator Dodson also reaffirmed the place of reconciliation in building a prosperous future for our nation, stating that “all of us, regardless of race, culture or gender, share a strong identity as Australians wanting to build a common, tolerant and prosperous future together. If we work to find what we have in common rather than what divides us… We can be better people; we can build a better Australia; we can build a better place for the next generation together.”

Guided by the diplomacy of the Council before us, Reconciliation Australia has successfully worked under various governments to ensure reconciliation remains a multi-partisan priority.

“In the 25 years since the Council was established, and with the ongoing work of Reconciliation Australia, our nation has made some remarkable progress towards reconciliation. The Mabo decision in 1992 and the Apology in 2008 were landmark events in our reconciliation journey”, said Mr. Mohamed.

The issues raised in parliament this week, including Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and constitutional recognition of First Australians, demonstrate that the reconciliation process has raised broader questions about our national identity and the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and rights in our nation’s story.

“The triumph of the last 25 years is that reconciliation is no longer seen as a single issue or agenda, but instead lies at the heart of our nation and our understanding of who we are, and who we want to be”, Mr. Mohamed added.


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