Aboriginal timeline: Reconciliation

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1770

  1. The Guugu Yimithirr people and Captain James Cook clash over a dozen sea turtles that Cook's party caught for food near present-day Cooktown. Later, an Elder approaches Cook, offering a broken spear as a gesture of reconciliation and the two parties settle their dispute. The National Trust of Australia nominated the event as Australia's first documented act of reconciliation. Because the area where the two parties met is rocky it is now known as Reconciliation Rocks.

1991

  1. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation is set up, funded by the federal government, with cross-party support. The parliament noted that there had not been a formal process of reconciliation to date, “and that it was most desirable that there be such a reconciliation” by 2001.

  2. Support for a treaty is not unanimous, but wide political support continues for reconciliation. Through 1990 and 1991, cross-party support develops for a formal process of reconciliation to be led by a council of prominent Australians, and the government establishes the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation on 2 September 1991.

1992

  1. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation issues its Strategic Plan for the next three years.

1996

  1. The Council for Reconciliation starts its first National Reconciliation Week.

  2. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation organises the first National Reconciliation Week.

1997

  1. During the opening address of the Reconciliation Convention Premier Minister John Howard refers to the plight of Australia’s Aboriginal people as a mere ‘blemish’, dismissing centuries of dispossession and violence as insignificant. Indigenous delegates in the audience stand and turn their backs on the Prime Minister in protest. The PM snaps and screams at the audience in return.

    In facing the realities of the past, [...] we must not join those who would portray Australia's history since 1788 as little more than a disgraceful record of imperialism [...] such an approach will be repudiated by the overwhelming majority of Australians who are proud of what this country has achieved although inevitably acknowledging the blemishes in its past history.

    — Then-Prime Minister, John Howard

2000

  1. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation identifies a treaty as the unfinished business of the reconciliation process and recommends “that the Commonwealth Parliament enact legislation... to put in place a process which will unite all Australians by way of an agreement, or treaty, through which unresolved issues of reconciliation can be resolved.”

  2. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation ceases to operate by the end of 2000. It is to be replaced by a new national body, Reconciliation Australia, in 2001.

  3. Corroboree 2000 is held at Sydney Opera House to mark 10 years of work on reconciliation. Here, the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation presents to the nation Corroboree 2000 - Towards Reconciliation which includes the documents ‘Australian Declaration towards Reconciliation’ and ‘Roadmap for Reconciliation’. The roadmap outlines four national strategies to advance reconciliation.

  4. More than 250,000 people cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the People’s Walk for Reconciliation which lasted almost six hours. It became the largest political demonstration ever held in Australia. A week later, about 60,000 people crossed the William Jolly Bridge in Brisbane. Many smaller walks followed in state capitals and regional towns across Australia. Big marches in Melbourne and Perth at the end of the year attracted as many as 300,000 people.

2002

  1. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Dr William Jonas, presents the Social Justice Report 2001 and Native Title Report 2001 to the federal parliament. In the report he questions: What happened to reconciliation? Both reports express serious concerns about the nation’s progress in recognising Aboriginal rights.

  2. The Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee commences an inquiry into the Progress Towards National Reconciliation and is due to report by September 2003.

2009

  1. Reconciliation Australia releases the Australian Reconciliation Barometer, a first-ever study on how Aboriginal and other Australians see and feel about each other.

2011

  1. Australia Post becomes the first government business enterprise to create a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). It celebrates it with the release of an invitation-only commemorative stamp featuring Ellen Pangerian (1847-1877), also known as Helen Mary Cuper, who was the first Aboriginal post mistress in Australia.

2018

  1. The Australian Capital Territory becomes the first state or territory to recognise reconciliation with a public holiday by changing its Family & Community Day to become a Reconciliation Day public holiday. It will now be the first Monday on or after 27 May.

2021

  1. Prime Minister Scott Morrison changes the words of the national anthem. The second line of the national song is now "for we are one and free" instead of "young and free". The change recognises Australia's long Aboriginal history but also the waves of migration and how Australians have united in times of crisis. However, the PM did not consult with Aboriginal people. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had raised the idea for the wording change about a year ago. It is the first change to the anthem since 1984.

    Australia as a modern nation may be relatively young, but our country’s story is ancient, as are the stories of the many First Nations peoples.

    — Scott Morrison, Prime Minister
  2. The Victorian government announces an inquiry into the ongoing effects of the violent dispossession and genocide of Aboriginal people during colonisation by the British empire and racist policies by Australian governments. Named the Yoo-rrook justice commission, after the Wemba Wemba/Wamba Wamba word for ‘truth’, it will investigate both historical and ongoing injustices against Aboriginal people and it part of the truth-telling process the Uluru Statement From the Heart called for.

    It’s the first commission of its kind in Australia and will be given the powers of a royal commission, meaning it will be able to compel evidence under oath.

References

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[124214] 'Now is the time to recognise that Australia is 'one and free'', SMH 31/12/2020

Cite this page

Korff, J 2021, Aboriginal timeline: Reconciliation, <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australian-aboriginal-history-timeline/reconciliation>, retrieved 18 October 2021

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