What is Reconciliation?

At its heart, reconciliation is about strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, for the benefit of all Australians.

“… A reconciled Australia is one where our rights as First Australians are not just respected but championed in all the places that matter …”
Kirstie Parker – Board Member, Reconciliation Australia

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Australia’s colonial history is characterised by devastating land dispossession, violence, and racism. Over the last half-century, however, many significant steps towards reconciliation have been taken.

Reconciliation is an ongoing journey that reminds us that while generations of Australians have fought hard for meaningful change, future gains are likely to take just as much, if not more, effort.

In a just, equitable and reconciled Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will have the same life chances and choices as non-Indigenous children, and the length and quality of a person’s life will not be determined by their racial background.

Our vision of reconciliation is based and measured on five dimensions: historical acceptance; race relations; equality and equity; institutional integrity and unity.

These five dimensions do not exist in isolation, but are interrelated. Reconciliation cannot be seen as a single issue or agenda; the contemporary definition of reconciliation must weave all of these threads together. For example, greater historical acceptance of the wrongs done to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can lead to improved race relations, which in turn leads to greater equality and equity.

“Reconciliation must transcend Australian political theatre and promote a sense of national unity …” Patrick Dodson – The State of Reconciliation in Australia, 2016

“Reconciliation isn’t a single moment or place in time. It’s lots of small, consistent steps, some big strides, and sometimes unfortunate backwards steps …” – Karen Mundine – Chief Executive Officer, Reconciliation Australia

The Five Dimensions of Reconciliation

Race Relations

Race Relations

All Australians understand and value Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous cultures,
rights and experiences, which results in stronger
relationships based on trust and respect and that are
free of racism.

Goal: Positive two-way relationships built on trust and respect exist between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians throughout society.

Action: Overcome racism

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Equality and Equity

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples participate equally in a range of life opportunities and the unique rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are recognised and upheld.

Goal:  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians participate equally and equitably in all areas of life—i.e. we have closed the gaps in life outcomes—and the distinctive individual and collective rights and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are universally recognised and respected.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are self-determining.

Action: Renew focus on Closing the Gap

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integrity

Institutional Integrity

The active support of reconciliation by the nation’s political, business and community structures.

Goal: Our political, business and community institutions actively support all dimensions of reconciliation.

Action: Capitalise on the RAP Program to create a wider range of opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Unity

An Australian society that values and recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander cultures and heritage as a proud part of a shared national identity.

Goal: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and rights are a valued and recognised part of a shared national identity and, as a result, there is national unity.

Action: Achieve a process to recognise Australia’s First Peoples in our Constitution.

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historical-acceptance

Historical Acceptance

All Australians understand and accept the wrongs of the past and their impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Australia makes amends for  past policies and practices ensures these wrongs are never repeated.

Goal: There is widespread acceptance of our nation’s history and agreement that the wrongs of the past will never be repeated— there is truth, justice, healing and historical acceptance.

Action: Acknowledge our past through education and understanding.

Our Research Projects

Reconciliation Australia undertakes a significant research program to develop a deeper understanding of national reconciliation and measure progress across its five inter-related dimensions.
Key reports include:

The Australian Reconciliation Barometer is a biennial, national research study, conducted by Reconciliation Australia since 2008. The Barometer measures attitudes and perceptions towards reconciliation, and maps our progress towards the five dimensions of reconciliation.

In 2016 the Barometer surveyed 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Australians and 2277 Australians in the general community across all states and territories.

The findings show us that there are positive signs of progress and still much to do to achieve our vision of a reconciled nation across the five dimensions.

All reports, including those from previous years are available in the resources section of this website.  Simply search ‘reports’ for a full listing.