Describe the responses of individuals, groups and governments in Australia to the challenge of reconciliation.

Essay by dx91High School, 10th grade February 2008

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During the century of nationhood, reconciliation has been an ongoing issue in Australia. Reconciliation means different things to people, but a common understanding is that all Australians deserve to have equal life opportunities, and that genuine reconciliation will only exist when indigenous disadvantage has been eliminated. Many steps have been made along the road to reconciliation as a result of the positive responses of individuals, groups and governments in Australia.

The government has addressed the challenges of reconciliation through constitutional means, common law and legislation. The move towards reconciliation started with a landmark amendment to the Australian Constitution was a result of the overwhelmingly supported 1967 referendum. Since then there have been several events addressing the challenges of reconciliation.

In 1991, the formal process for reconciliation began, with the Australian parliament passing an act for the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (CAR). The Council was to guide the process of reconciliation for the following ten years.

The main achievement of the Council was its Documents Towards Reconciliation. This was presented to the Australian people at the Corroborree 2000 convention at the Opera House in Sydney. These documents included the Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation and the Roadmap for Reconciliation. Large numbers of individuals showed their support of reconciliation by walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge the day after the Corroborree 2000 convention. Across the country large numbers also took part in marches in their cities and towns.

The significant Mabo Decision of 1992 brought in the concept of Native Title and overturned the doctrine of terra nullius. It recognised the land rights of Indignous people, as well as their existence when Europeans first arrived in Australia. The Keating government proposed a three-stage response to the high Court’s Mabo Decision. In the first stage the Mabo decision was made part...