Australia Far Away from Reconciliation
9 February 2016 at 10:24 am
The number of people who support reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians is on the rise, but racial abuse of first Australians is still rampant, a landmark report has found.
The State of Reconciliation in Australia report was released on Tuesday to mark 25 years since the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
Launched by Reconciliation Australia, the report measured Australia’s progress towards reconciliation against five dimensions: race relations, equality and equity, institutional integrity, unity, and historical acceptance.
The report found that while most Australians support reconciliation, trust towards indigenous Australians is low and racial abuse is high.
“Almost all Australians (86 per cent) believe the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians is important,” the report said.
“Many Australians (64 per cent) agree that cultural diversity makes us stronger, but some of us (35 per cent) still believe Australia is a racist country.
“Trust between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-indigenous Australians is low. Only 26 per cent of the general population believe trust towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is high.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still experience high levels of racial prejudice and discrimination. Thirty-three per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had experienced verbal racial abuse in the six months before the survey.”
Reconciliation Australia CEO Justin Mohamed said there was a “national conversation taking place about our shared identity, and increasing support for national reconciliation throughout Australian society. However, there are still many hard conversations before us”.
“As a nation of peoples, we don’t always agree on the impacts of the past, and what we can do to change this in the future,” Mohamed said.
“Today’s report provides a clear blueprint for a reconciled Australia in which we can all equally participate.”
The report also included a series of recommendations to help Australia reach reconciliation, including, a zero tolerance for racism, a renewed focus on closing the gap, and a reaffirmed recognition and respect for the rights of first Australians.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert spoke at the launch of the report and said its recommendations must be considered.
“The report points to the lacklustre implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Senator Siewert said.
“The declaration sets standards for human rights obligations that include the right to participate in decision making and the right to be consulted prior to providing free and informed consent about laws and policies.
“The report states that these rights were not upheld during the proposed closures of up to 150 remote Aboriginal communities in WA, nor during the introduction of paperless arrests in the Northern Territory. This is simply not good enough.
“I urge the government to consider the seven recommendations built on five dimensions that map out reconciliation, these include overcoming racism, renewing the focus on closing the gap, institutional integrity, unity and historical acceptance.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be tabling his first Closing the Gap Report in parliament on Wednesday.
This report is expected to focus on the push for constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians.