NACCHO Reconciliation News : Speech notes from launch of the State of Reconciliation in Australia report

Justin

 “If Australia is to achieve true reconciliation, we must first acknowledge the facts of our history. Today’s Report tells us 9 in 10 Australians agree that injustices occurred as a result of European settlement. Yet only half agree that past race-based policies have created today’s disadvantage.

Today’s Report also confirms that too often, First Australians continue to bear the brunt of racism and discrimination.”

Launch of the State of Reconciliation in Australia report Speech notes for Justin Mohamed, CEO, Reconciliation Australia : Please Note Justin was the previous chair of NACCHO

Reconciliation Australia is proud to release the State of Reconciliation in Australia report.

The first of its kind since 2000, the Report highlights what has been achieved under the five dimensions of reconciliation: race relations, equality and equity, institutional integrity, unity, and historical acceptance and makes recommendations on how we can progress reconciliation into the next generation.

Over the last 25 years, Australia has achieved some significant milestones on our reconciliation journey.

These include the establishment of native title, the Apology, the Closing the Gap framework and progress on constitutional recognition of First Australians.

While much goodwill and support for reconciliation is growing across the Australian community, racism, denial of rights, and a lack of willingness to come to terms with our history continue to overshadow the nation’s progress towards reconciliation.

There are still many hard conversations before us.

These conversations are for all Australians to actively commit to and participate in, whether as individuals, or as members of the business, government, education, community or other sectors.

It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that one day in the near future, we can say that we are truly reconciled.

Until we achieve reconciliation, Australia will fall short of its full potential as a nation.

See below for the full copy and summary of the State of Reconciliation in Australia report, as well as our Twitter feed to follow or join this vital national conversation.

To also mark this milestone report, a video has been developed to highlight our nation’s history, story, and chapters to come. Watch, share with friends, and lets all join in on the conversation of reconciliation in Australia.

Full Speech

This report comes at a critical time in Australia’s history.

It comes at a period when reconciliation is an increasingly important part of the national conversation.

Today’s Report provides us with a clear framework to measure the progress we’ve made over a generation.

Most importantly, the report outlines clear measures that can move us towards a truly reconciled future.

This Report is the first of its kind since the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation handed its final report to Parliament in 2000—it is fitting that we launch the report here at Parliament House—the setting for some of the most significant reconciliation milestones over the past few decades.

Without further ado I’d like to begin by inviting Ngunnawal Elder Aunty Violet Sherida to the lectern to welcome us to this magnificent Country we are meeting on today.

Thank you Aunty Violet for your warm Welcome to Country. And in doing so, I would like to pay my respects and acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land we are meeting on today and to their Elders both past and present

I would like to pay my respects to elders present here today and thank you for your determination, leadership and vision. And to my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters for the strength you provide to your members and their Communities

I’d also like to acknowledge our many distinguished guests with us here this morning including:

  • Hon Nigel Scullion Minister for Indigenous Affairs, representing the Prime Minister
  • Opposition Leader, the Hon Bill Shorten MP
  • Australian Greens Leader, the Hon Richard di Natale
  • Members of Parliament
  • Reconciliation Australia’s Co-Chairs Melinda Cilento and Tom Calma and Board members present

Ladies and gentlemen, let me acknowledge your presence here this morning.

Today’s event is testament to the importance our nation’s leaders, in all sectors, have placed on reconciliation between non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

We know that until we achieve true reconciliation, we fall short of reaching our full potential as a nation.

The State of Reconciliation in Australia Report defines reconciliation in five important dimensions:

  • race relations
  • equality and equity
  • unity
  • institutional integrity and
  • historical acceptance.

These dimensions, when woven together, will form the fabric of an Australia where race relations are positive.

Where relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians are free of racism, and built on trust and respect.

Where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can participate equally in all areas of life.

Where the unique rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are recognised and upheld.

An Australia where there is widespread acceptance of our nation’s history; where the wrongs of the past are no longer repeated.

And where all Australians, across our political, business and community institutions, actively weave these dimensions together.

Australia has a long history of reconciliation and countless people have dedicated their lives to the movement.

In 1967, we saw nine in ten Australians vote in favour of giving the Commonwealth power to legislate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In 1991, formal reconciliation began with the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.

By 1992, we saw the Mabo decision, that led to native title.

And in 2008, the Apology was given to the Stolen Generations;

These are all remarkable achievements, brought about by generations of countless people fighting for change for the better.

Yet today’s report confirms that we still have a long way to go if we are to stand up and be a nation that is just and equitable for all Australians.

Today we live in a nation where many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still experience racism, prejudice, and discrimination.

Today Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up over 25% of Australia’s prison population.

And our people face a number of complex social problems resulting from colonisation and a denial of basic human rights.

For me three dimensions really stand out:

  • historical acceptance;
  • race relations; and
  • equity.

If Australia is to achieve true reconciliation, we must first acknowledge the facts of our history.

Today’s Report tells us 9 in 10 Australians agree that injustices occurred as a result of European settlement.

Yet only half agree that past race-based policies have created today’s disadvantage.

This tells us that we have some way to go before our nation fully understands and accepts the wrongs of the past and what these mean for Aboriginal and Torres Strait people today.

And unless we can heal these historical wounds, they will continue to play out in our country’s future.

Today’s Report also confirms that too often, First Australians continue to bear the brunt of racism and discrimination.

We recently saw the booing of Adam Goodes, the availability of an online game which blatantly encouraged the killing of Aboriginal People, and social media trolling on Australia Day.

In order to move forward with reconciliation, it is clear that we must have zero tolerance towards racism and discrimination.

Indeed, relationships are the backbone of reconciliation.

Like all positive relationships, our journey together must be built on respect, honesty, and trust.

Until we truly value the collective rights—the rich diversity, difference and uniqueness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and peoples—we will continue down the long-trodden path of assimilation.

As Noel Pearson recently reminded us, “reconciliation will take careful calibration”.

These are the challenges that lie ahead.

As long as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples do not enjoy the same opportunities as non‑Indigenous Australians, we cannot say we are reconciled.

As long as prejudice and racism exist, we cannot say we are reconciled.

As long as past wrongs are repeated in the present, we cannot say we are reconciled.

It is the responsibility of all of us to understand our history, to engage with the story and actively participate in our nation’s future.

As mentioned we are honoured to have representatives from the three major parties here to speak with us today. On behalf of the Prime Minister the Indigenous Affairs Minister the Hon Nigel Scullion, Opposition Leader Hon Bill Shorten and Representing the Australian Greens, the Hon Rachel Siewert.

We are truly grateful that you all could make it today to show your support for reconciliation in Australia and we look forward to working with you to bring the actions outlined in this Report to life.

Finally, but not least, I’d like to welcome Reconciliation Australia Co-Chairs Professor Tom Calma AO and Ms Melinda Cilento to the stage to say a few words and launch the State of Reconciliation in Australia Report.

As our Co-Chairs have outlined, we have much to do and we must make reconciliation a national priority in the next 25 years to continue our momentum toward a better nation.

Summaries of the State of Reconciliation in Australia report are available inside your bag and a full copy of the Report is available on Reconciliation Australia’s website at reconciliation.org.au

Thank you once again for joining us—we hope you will play your part as we work towards another generation of achievements in reconciliation.

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