The Institute Times

Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation established

First edition of the Council newsletter, Walking Together.
First edition of the Council newsletter, Walking Together.

The Council Chairperson, Patrick Dodson welcomes readers to the first edition of the Council newsletter, Walking Together.

As a Council of 25 people we cannot achieve reconciliation by ourselves—it is a process that must involve the whole community. The process involves all of us walking together to find a better path to the future of this nation.

It seems longer than seven months ago that the Council first met. From the beginning I was struck by the way the membership of the Council reflected the wider society. As each member told his or her story, it seemed that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members were describing lives that took place in another country. We heard stories of inequality, injustice, ignorance and disadvantage, the impact of which continues to be felt and demonstrated today. The fact is that this has not crushed the spirits of those who had gone through these experiences. Rather, the pain has been turned to a positive desire to see improvement and change for future generations of Australians.

We have had three meetings now and have finalised a strategic plan to guide our work in this first three-year term of the Council. Central to the Strategic Plan is our vision for a united Australia which respects and of ours; values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and provides justice and equity for all.

Since our first meeting we have been coming to grips with the difficult task of deciding what reconciliation is all about. How do we change attitudes in our complex society so that we can all be better informed and discord, disunity and prejudice are diminished? How can the Council's vision for the nation be fulfilled so that Australia can achieve that level of maturity? It's not going to be an easy task.

To put our Strategic Plan into action the Council has established a number of working groups to come up with strategies to improve relations between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians and to distribute information about reconciliation issues. The working groups will concentrate on the rural, mining and industry sectors and the media. A consultative group will consider whether relations between indigenous and other Australians need to be formalised through a document.

While I've spoken of reconciliation in national and sectoral terms, it's important not to lose sight of the fact that reconciliation is basically a grass roots process. It's about people living and working together, and solving problems in local communities. The Council has heard many stories about people working together to improve community relations. In this and future editions of Walking Together, we want to share these stories with you.

The Council has been encouraged by the enormous goodwill in the Australian community towards achieving justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Thank you for your support. We can't do it alone...

Patrick Dodson
Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation

Full newsletter available at the Australasian Legal Information Institute.