Finding Common Ground:
Towards a Document for Reconciliation
A brief timeline of Reconciliation
first Attorney General of New South Wales, makes a submission to the
Select Committee of the House of Commons arguing that treaties should
be entered into with Aboriginal people and that their rights to land
should be respected.
The Aborigines Progressive Association declared a Day of Mourning on
Australia Day and held the first Aborigines Conference in Sydney. The
Conference resolved to appeal to the nation to give Indigenous Australians
full citizenship rights.
Referendum sees 92 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth
government power to legislate for Aboriginal people and to allow them
to be counted in the Census.
Prime Minister William McMahon makes an important statement signalling
a major change from the old assimilation policy. The statement sets
out a number of policy objectives, including the equal right of Aborigines
'to hold effective and respected places within one Australian society'.
At the same time, they were to be encouraged to preserve and develop
their own culture.
The Whitlam Government establishes the Department of Aboriginal Affairs
and makes a firm commitment to the policy of self-determination. The
new Government also sets up the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee.
The Australian Senate unanimously endorses a resolution put up by Senator
Neville Bonner acknowledging prior ownership of this country by Aboriginal
people and seeking compensation for their dispossession. Federal Parliament
passes the Racial Discrimination Act.
Government effects the passing of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern
Territory) Act and brings the new legislation into operation.
Dr H.C. Coombes initiates movement towards a treaty with Indigenous
The Aboriginal Treaty Committee is formed and the National Aboriginal
Conference calls for a treaty between the Commonwealth government and
Aboriginal people. The Hon. Fred Chaney, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs,
welcomes the initiative and funds a nationwide consultation process.
Pope John Paul II visits Alice Springs and makes a public statement
saying 'There is a need for a just and proper settlement (with Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander people) that still lies unachieved in Australia.'
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gerry Hand presents to the Parliament the
statement Foundations for the Future, aimed at progressing the idea
of a compact with Indigenous Australians.
Australian Heads of Churches issue a statement, Towards Reconciliation
in Australian Society -Reconciliation and Aboriginal Australians,
arguing for just and proper settlement of differences and the healing
New Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Robert Tickner announces Government's
intention of seeking greater cross-party agreement on Aboriginal Affairs.
Tickner releases discussion paper outlining proposals for advancing
reconciliation, including an education campaign and the establishment
of a council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
Minister tables Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths
in Custody which inquired into the deaths of 99 Aboriginal people
and Torres Strait Islanders. The final recommendation supports the concept
of a process of reconciliation, with Commissioner Elliott Johnston commenting
that 'All political leaders and their parties recognise that reconciliation
between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in Australia must
be achieved if community division, discord and injustice to Aboriginal
people are to be avoided.'
Robert Tickner appointed as Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for
Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Act is passed in the House
of Representatives with unanimous support.
Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Act is passed in the Senate
with unanimous support.
The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation holds its first meeting in
High Court hands down its Mabo decision, recognising special
relationship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have
with the land.
First National Indigenous Business Conference in Alice Springs.
International Year of the World's Indigenous People.
First national Week of Prayer for Reconciliation with support from all
major religious groups.
Meeting at Fitzroy Crossing of representatives of the Kimberley Land
Council and Aboriginal pastoralists, the Pastoralists and Grainhandlers
Association, and the WA Farmers Federation - the first wide ranging
meeting in 100 years between these groups.
Native Title Act passed by Federal Parliament recognising native
title and providing a process by which native title rights can be established.
First meeting of the Joint Council on Aboriginal Land and Mining (J-CALM),
representing the first occasion when senior mining company executives
and senior Aboriginal leaders have come together to discuss issues of
The Uniting Church National Assembly formally apologises for past wrongs
and pledges to work in solidarity with the Aboriginal and Islander Congress.
Council holds its first cultural awareness training for journalists
in the Kimberley region of WA.
Walking Together: The First Steps is presented to Parliament,
documenting the lessons learned during the first term of the Council
for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
The Australian Football League releases a new code of conduct on racism
which receives strong endorsement from the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
Council presents Going Forward: Social Justice for the First Australians
to Prime Minister Paul Keating. This major document contains 78 recommendations
covering a range of issues including access to land, protection of culture
and heritage, and the provision of adequate health, housing and other
Government amends the Flags Act to give official recognition
to the Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag.
Aboriginal, pastoral and environmental organisations on Cape York sign
the Cape York Land Use Heads of Agreement, showing that organisations
representing disparate interests can agree on diverse land uses. The
agreement is seen as the first step towards a possible Regional Agreement
as defined in the Commonwealth Native Title Act.
CAR launches the first National Reconciliation Week at a luncheon hosted
by Prime Minister John Howard, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley and Democrats
Leader Cheryl Kernot.
CAR announces grant to the Deans of Australian Medical Schools for the
development of a cultural awareness training module for medical students.
CAR convenes Key Stakeholders Meetings on Native Title with representatives
from indigenous organisations and from the pastoral, farming, mining
and exploration industries, to exchange views on native title issues
and discuss possible agreed positions.
Australian Reconciliation Convention, convened by the Council. Attended
by 1,800 participants, this event becomes an historic landmark in the
reconciliation process and stimulates a grassroots people's movement
around the country.
Considerable growth in the number of local reconciliation groups and
strengthening of the peoples movement for reconciliation in the six
months since the convention.
Council identifies three major goals for its final term: a Document
of Reconciliation; Partnerships to achieve social and economic equality
for Indigenous people; and a people's movement to sustain the reconciliation
process beyond 2000.
Launch of Council's Draft Document for Reconciliation.
Public consultations on the draft document.
Council will present final proposals on a Document at major national
Centenary of Federation and the end of the life of the Council.
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