Reconciliation Timeline: Key Moments

A History of formal Reconciliation in Australia.

1991The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody presents its final report and recommendations to the Australian Parliament, including calling for a process of national reconciliation. The Australian Parliament unanimously passes the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Act 1991 (Cth), formally launching a process of national reconciliation and formally establishing the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (CAR). CAR’s vision was 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.

1992 — The High Court recognises native title in the landmark Mabo v Queensland (No.2) (1992), busting the myth of terra nullius. Prime Minister Paul Keating delivers the ‘Redfern Speech’ recognising the history of dispossession, violence and forced removal of Aboriginal children.

1993 — Australian Parliament passes the Native Title Act. The first National Week of Prayer for Reconciliation is supported by Australia’s major faith communities.

1995 — The Australian Government officially recognises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.

1996 — CAR expands the Week of Prayer for Reconciliation to launch Australia’s first National Reconciliation Week.

1997 — The Bringing Them Home report on Australia’s Stolen Generations is launched at the inaugural Australian Reconciliation Convention in Melbourne attended by nearly 2,000 people.

2000 — Hundreds of thousands of Australians walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge, and other bridges around Australia, to show support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aspirations. After a decade, CAR presents its final reports to the Australian people: The Australian Declaration towards Reconciliation and The Roadmap for Reconciliation. They argue a decade is not long enough to reconcile the nation.

2001 — Reconciliation Australia is established from recommendations of CAR’s final report.

2005 — National Reconciliation Planning Workshop is held; attended by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition

2006 — The Close the Gap campaign for Indigenous health equality is developed following the release of the Social Justice Report 2005. Reconciliation Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan program begins.

2007 — Australia celebrates the 40th anniversary of the 1967 referendum. June: The Australian Government, led by Prime Minister John Howard, begins the Northern Territory Emergency Response.

2008 — Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologises to the Stolen Generations on behalf of the Australian Parliament.

2009 — Australia supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Previously, Australia had been one of only four nations to oppose the Declaration.

2010 — The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples is established.

2011 — The Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples leads wide-ranging public consultations and delivers its findings in January 2012.

2012 — Recognise, Reconciliation Australia’s campaign to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution, begins.

2016 — The first State of Reconciliation in Australia report is published.

2017 — The Uluru Statement From the Heart is released by delegates to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Referendum Convention held near Uluru in Central Australia. The Turnbull Government rejects the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Recognise campaign is disbanded after the Federal Government ceases to fund it.

2018 — Victoria becomes the first Australian state to pass Treaty legislation when it passes the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Act 2018 (VIC).

2020 — Tens of thousands of Australians attend Black Lives Matter marches in cities across the country to protest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody and high rates of incarceration of First Nations peoples. Mining company Rio Tinto destroys two 46,000-year-old sites in the Juukan Gorge, Pilbara, and is suspended from the Reconciliation Action Plan community; Senate Inquiry held; CEO and two senior executives resign.

This is an edited version of the timeline in the 2021 State of Reconciliation Report.

This version was published in Reconciliation News May 2021.

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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