What is Reconciliation
Australia has a long history of reconciliation and countless people – Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous – have dedicated their life’s work to the reconciliation movement. As a result, many significant steps have been taken.
In the 25 years since the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (CAR) was established, the concept of reconciliation has taken a holistic approach that encompasses rights, as well as so-called symbolic and practical actions. Over this time, reconciliation has introduced a greater focus on the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians and opened up a national debate on prejudice, discrimination and racism. It 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. Recently, Reconciliation Australia also oversaw the Recognise campaign, promoting greater awareness of, and support for constitutional recognition of Australia’s First Peoples. We continue to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups, communities and individuals to see constitutional and legislative reform based on the recommendations of the Statement from the Heart.
Reconciliation can no longer be seen as a single issue or agenda and the contemporary definition of reconciliation must weave all of these threads together.
To develop a framework to measure Australia’s progress towards reconciliation across these many dimensions, Reconciliation Australia undertook a review of reconciliation in Australia and internationally. As a result of this work, five critical dimensions that together represent a holistic and comprehensive picture of reconciliation were identified.
The Five Dimensions of Reconciliation
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 State of Reconciliation in Australia (2016, summary and full report)
- Australian Reconciliation Barometer (2016, summary and full report)
- RAP Impact Measurement Report (2017)
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.