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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.
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.
The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation issues its Strategic Plan for the next three years.
The Council for Reconciliation starts its first National Reconciliation Week.
The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation organises the first National Reconciliation Week.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 recognisising Aboriginal rights.
The Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee commences an inquiry into the Progress Towards National Reconciliation and is due to report by September 2003.
Reconciliation Australia releases the Australian Reconciliation Barometer, a first-ever study on how Aboriginal and other Australians see and feel about each other.
Australia Post becomes the first government business enterprise to create a Reconciliaton 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.
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.