Australians’ support for reconciliation and for a greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander say in their own affairs continues to strengthen according to the latest national survey conducted by Reconciliation Australia.
The 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer, a national research study conducted every two years to measure and compare attitudes and perceptions towards reconciliation, has found that an overwhelming number of Australians (90%) believe in the central tenet of reconciliation – that the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important.
The 2018 Barometer surveyed a national sample of 497 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and 1995 Australians in the general community across all states and territories.
Reconciliation CEO, Karen Mundine, said that this latest Barometer once again showed a steady strengthening of the indicators for reconciliation and improved relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
“Among these indicators is the encouraging fact that 90% of Australians believe in the central tenet of our reconciliation efforts, that the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important, and that 79% agree that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are important to Australia’s national identity,” said Ms Mundine.
“Significantly, almost all Australians (95%) believe that ‘it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in matters that affect them’ and 80% believe it is important to ‘undertake formal truth telling processes’, with 86% believing it is important to learn about past issues.
“More Australians than ever before feel a sense of pride for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; this has risen to 62% from 50% in 2008 when the first barometer was conducted,” she said.
Conducted by Reconciliation Australia the Australian Reconciliation Barometer is the only survey undertaken in Australia which measures the progress of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.
Ms Mundine said she was heartened by the 2018 results which indicated that the work of Reconciliation Australia and other organisations which promoted reconciliation, the richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and the need to truthfully present Australia’s history, was having a positive impact.
“In welcoming these latest results, I must acknowledge the hard work undertaken by so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people to share the incredible beauty and complexity of our cultures across this continent.”
Ms Mundine said that while it was encouraging to see support for reconciliation grow again in the past two years, “there was still plenty of room for improvement”.
“Disturbingly the barometer found that 33% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced at least one form of verbal racial abuse in the last 6 months.”
Ms Mundine said that there were a number of actions that should be taken to further improve the situation for Australia’s First Nations and take the next steps towards a reconciled nation. These include:
- Developing a deeper reconciliation process through truth, justice and healing, including supporting a process of truth telling, the establishment of a national healing centre, formal hearings to capture stories and bear witness, reform to the school curriculum, and exploration of archives and other records to map massacre sites and understand the magnitude of the many past wrongs;
- Support for addressing unresolved issues of national reconciliation including through legislation setting out the timeframe and process for advancing the issues proposed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart;
- Supporting the national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples – and these efforts must be underpinned by the principles of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly the right to self-determination;
- Recommitting to the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Closing the Gap framework that involves renewing and increasing investments and national, state/territory and regional agreements to meet expanded Closing the Gap targets that are co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
- Investing in, and supporting, anti-racism campaigns and resources including maintaining strong legislative protections against racial discrimination and taking leadership to promote a zero-tolerance approach to racism and discrimination.