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


 “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

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

NACCHO POLITICAL ALERT: Download Act of recognition speech Prime Minister’s speech .

Julia PM

Photo NACCHO historial

Speaker, this Parliament is the gathering place of our nation’s representatives.

 But we stand on land that was, from time immemorial, the gathering place of the Ngunnawal people.

 So I speak here today, as I always do, in a spirit of friendship and respect for the First Australians, and with honour to Elders past and present.


 I’m also conscious that on this special anniversary, we acknowledge the courage that enabled Kevin Rudd to offer the Apology and the generosity of spirit that enabled Indigenous Australians to accept it.

 We are only able to consider this Act of Recognition and constitutional change because the Apology came first.

 Speaker, the Constitution of our Commonwealth came into force on January 1, 1901.

 It was the start of a new century and a new year.

 Alfred Deakin wrote that “Never on this side of the world was there a New Year’s Day with such high expectations.”

 Those expectations were high because with the Constitution had come Australia’s birth as a nation.

 But not all our people shared those expectations.

 In the decade of deliberation that created our Constitution, there were conventions and debates across this land.

 But there is no record of any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person taking part.

 Indigenous people did not ordain our Constitution nor contribute to its drafting.

 They had no opportunity to vote for it, and yet all were affected by what it said and what it failed to say.

 They were affected by provisions that even by the standards of the time seem questionable and strike us now as harsh and inhumane.

 But they were also affected by the “great Australian silence” which fell upon our founding document.

 Because among the 128 sections of the Constitution, there is no acknowledgement of Australia’s First Peoples.

 No mention of their dispossession.

 Their proud and ancient cultures.

 Their profound connection to the land.

 Or the unhealed wound that even now lies open at the heart of our national story.

 Speaker, in 1967, the people of Australia sought restitution and repair, but their work was incomplete.

 Today, a new generation dreams of finishing the job with the same idealism and the same means.

 Not through protests or law suits.

 But by this Parliament summoning every Australian elector to a referendum.

 And there, in the sanctity of the polling booth, to inscribe their agreement to a successful constitutional amendment.

 On that day, as the polls close and the ballots are counted, individual assent will merge into a collective “yes”.

 In that way, we will forge an accord – bi-partisan and unanimous – to right an old and grievous wrong.

 A step that will take us further on the path of Reconciliation than we have ever ventured before.

 Speaker, voting is the solemn act of our democratic order.

 But amending the Constitution is even more profound, because it occurs so rarely and succeeds even more rarely still.

 At the election of 2007, it seemed the prospect of constitutional recognition was very close at hand, supported, as it was, by both major parties.

 But in difficult and volatile times, we have not yet found the settled space in our national conversation to make the promised referendum a reality.

 So the government has advanced this Bill for an Act of Recognition.

 To assure Indigenous people that our purpose of amendment remains unbroken.

 And to prepare the wider community for the responsibility that lies ahead.

 This Bill is thus an act of preparation and anticipation.

 In this legislation, we, the nation’s 226 legislators will serve as proxies for Australia’s 14 million voters, bridging the time between now and referendum day.

 That is why this Bill has a sunset clause of two years.

 So that the 44th Parliament can achieve what the 42nd and 43rd have been unable to do.

 Speaker, this Bill introduced by my friend and colleague, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, has two main purposes:

 Firstly, it acknowledges in law that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the first inhabitants of this nation.

 It acknowledges they occupied this land from time immemorial – they honoured and cared for it, and do so to this day.

 Secondly, this Bill seeks to foster momentum for a referendum for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

 The Bill gives the Parliament some of the tools it will need to build the necessary momentum for constitutional change.

 These include a legislative requirement for a review of public support for a referendum, to be tabled here in Parliament six months before any referendum bill is proposed.

 This Bill, and the referendum to come, are closely informed by the work of the Expert Panel, itself an outstanding example of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians working together.

 The Expert Panel’s report was informed by intensive consultations across the nation – from Sydney to Ceduna, Longreach to Launceston.

 That work gives us the solid foundation upon which to build parliamentary and community consensus.

 I again thank the Expert Panel, ably co-chaired by Patrick Dodson and Mark Leibler, for its important work and I acknowledge the Panel members who are present today.

 But ultimately, a Referendum Bill will be the creation of this Parliament.

 So I also commend the work to date of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

 And I look forward to their continued work in the months ahead to prepare the way for the Parliament, most likely in the course of 2014, to debate and pass the Referendum Bill.

 This is the critical work because it will require all of us in this Parliament to find consensus around the wording and the content of the proposed constitutional amendment.

 Speaker, the work of preparation is vital and timely.

 But, ultimately, recognition is not a matter for politicians or experts.

 Instead, the Constitution belongs to the people.

 It was created by them.

 It serves them.

 And it is amendable by them alone.

 So this is a task in which all Australians must share.

 I do believe the community is willing embrace the justice of this campaign because Australians understand that Indigenous culture and history are a source of pride for us all.

 But I also believe that their good will needs to be galvanised.

 Some of the work of building consensus is being led by the Joint Select Committee.

 Some of the work is being led by Reconciliation Australia and other organisations that are building grassroots support for change.

 The Government is investing $10 million in this community-based work.

 But most of all, the push for change is increasingly being led by ordinary Australians – Indigenous and non-Indigenous  alike.

 This morning I met with some remarkable young Indigenous leaders who are deeply engaged in the campaign for recognition.

 Men and women who were not born in 1967 but who share the spirit and optimism of those days.

 They will be among the many Australians actively working in communities around the nation in coming weeks and months.

 I trust that we will be out there too, every one of us, in our electorates, doing the same.

 Campaigning with optimism – campaigning with hope.

 Speaker, the experience of 1967 gives us abundant cause for such hope.

 In an era where the nation was perhaps less open and socially-aware than our own time, that ballot yielding the highest “Yes” vote ever recorded in an Australian referendum – almost 91 per cent.

 I believe we can do it again.

 This year the youngest voters of that referendum are turning 67.

 I hope they will soon be able to return to the ballot box, perhaps with their children and grandchildren, and again make history.

 After all, a foundation document is more than just a set of rules and procedures.

 It can articulate a nation’s sense of itself.

 But our nation cannot articulate such a sense of self when there is still great unanswered questions in our midst.

 How do we share this land and on what terms?

 How adequate are our national laws and symbols to express our history and our hopes for the future?

 We must never feel guilt for the things already done in this nation’s history.

 But we can – and must – feel responsibility for the things that remain undone.

 No gesture speaks more deeply to the healing of our nation’s fabric than amending our nation’s founding charter.

 So I commend this Bill to the House as a deed of Reconciliation in its own right.

 And as a sign of good faith for the referendum to come.

 We are bound to each other in this land and always will be.

 Let us be bound in justice and dignity as well.


Reconciliation Australia joins the fight to end racism

Reconciliation Australia has joined forces with some of Australia’s leading community organisations, businesses and government agencies to support the

Racism. It stops with me campaign.

The new national anti-racism campaign aims to increase understanding of the damaging impact of racism and give Australians the tools and resources to take action when they see or experience racism in schools, workplaces and communities.

Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair, and former Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tom Calma said racism was a significant obstacle to achieving a reconciled Australia and commended the Australian Human Rights Commission for taking the lead in this campaign.

“Raising the issue of racism is uncomfortable for many Australians—and is even resented—but the reality is it affects so many Australians every single day.

“We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians continue to experience high levels of direct and indirect racism and I think it’s time to have some tough conversations, to really stop and think about how we can all work together to address this serious issue,” Dr Calma said.

According to the Australian Reconciliation Barometer, 93 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who were surveyed believed that the levels of prejudice towards them are ‘very high’ or ‘fairly high’.

At the launch event in Melbourne Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair Ms Melinda Cilento said at its core, racism reflects a lack of understanding and respect for another person’s culture.

“Racism locks people out of social and economic opportunities; it also damages relationships.

“Stronger relationships, built on shared knowledge and respect, are a key part of reducing the level of racism experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which is why Reconciliation Australia supports this campaign,” Ms Cilento said.

Almost 350 organisations around Australia are working through their Reconciliation Action Plans to build respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Reconciliation Australia encourages all Australians to get behind the