“Reconciliation is about ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have their rights as the first peoples of this nation properly recognised and that recognition of those rights ensures them the same life chances as other Australians. Reconciliation is about acknowledging the wrongs of the past and pledging as a nation to right them.” - Former Chair of NSW State Reconciliation Committee, Linda Burney, 1999
To understand reconciliation one must learn about the actions of the Stolen Generation that had undergone from the late 1800s and how it resulted in reconciliation. The stolen generation was the forced separation or “taking away” of children with aboriginal mothers and European fathers. Children were taken so they could be brought up ‘white” and reject Aboriginal culture, during this time 100,000 children were separated from their families. As a result of this policy children suffered through the loss of family, religion, culture and loss of identity.
Reconciliation is an aim coming from the Aboriginal deaths in custody report, 1991 from this the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation was established. Reconciliation is more than land rights it also includes; acknowledgement of past wrongs over the issue of stolen generation and till this day is still ongoing. The reconciliation movement is said to have begun with the 1967 referendum in this 90% of Australians voted tremendously to propose changes to the constitution so Aboriginal people would be counted in the Census. This then meant the Commonwealth would have the power to make laws regarding Aboriginal peoples. It is viewed that Prime Minister Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd encouraged reconciliation through powerful speeches. On February 13th, 2008, Aboriginal people across all Australia were deeply moved by The Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd as he had finally apologised to the Stolen Generations and formally said ‘sorry’. “We apologise for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.”
Interfaith dialogue rejects the belief that all religions are the same. It is not an attempt to unify different religions, but while respecting the diversity of beliefs it allows different religions to come to a better appreciation of the uniqueness of each other. When it comes to reconciliation there is interfaith support from different religious traditions. For example, Jewish groups hold a week of prayer for reconciliation every year. In 1998 the Australian and New Zealand Union for progressive Judaism voiced their support for the Wik Decision and opposed the Ten Point Plan. Ecumenism refers to the movement towards religious unity amongst Christian denominations, Organisations involved are, NSW Ecumenical Council, Uniting Church and the Pentecostal church. As a result of Ecumenism it promotes unity, allows for pooling of resources, assists family unity by interchurch marriages and the National Council of Churches (NCCA) can present a united front and be more influential on public policy.
Wide varieties of Christian groups are a part of the reconciliation movement and support the issues of Land rights, Native Title and Formal Apology. Many Christian denominations have designated committees to ensure they maintain a close working relationship. In 1997, following the publication of the “Bringing Them Home Report” church groups offered formal apologies regarding the role of missionaries in the abuse of Aboriginal people. Also strongly urged the government to make a public apology.
The Catholic Church was also showing support. Pope John Paul II visited Alice Springs during his 1986 Australian Visit his speech people will remember due to the depth and decisiveness his words acting as a guiding inspiration towards indigenous and non-indigenous men and women. He