Reconciliation Australia developed this website with initial funding from the Westpac Foundation and the Coles Group Community Fund in response to a request from industry for an introductory site for employees. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across the country have provided input and feedback on the content. Every effort has been made to capture the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures but to also keep the content simple and introductory.
The site will continue to grow and continue to add Torres Strait Islander-specific content. Face-to-face training with an experienced Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultural awareness provider and/or cultural immersion within your specific community can be life changing. This site is not a substitute for these deeper experiences; rather it is a starting point for your journey. It’s designed so that you can go through the chapters in one sitting or dip in and out when you have time or if you’re looking for information on a particular issue. As you work through this site, reflect on these questions:
- What might I do differently and what might my organisation do differently to build better relationships with Indigenous peoples?
- What might I do differently and what my organisation do differently to have and show respect for Indigenous Australians?
- What might I do differently and what might my organisation do differently to create opportunities for Indigenous peoples to help close the life expectancy gap and build a stronger Australia?
We’re not asking you to consider what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples might do to improve relationships, respect and opportunities. Indigenous communities think about these things every day, particularly for the sake of their children. But this particular website is designed to give non-Indigenous people a glimpse into the lives and cultures of Australia’s First People.
About Reconciliation Australia
Reconciliation Australia is the national organisation promoting reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian community. Our vision is for an Australia that recognises and respects the special place, culture, rights and contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and where good relationships between First Australians and other Australians become the foundation for local strength and success; and the enhancement of our national wellbeing. Our programs such as the Indigenous Governance Awards Project and the Reconciliation Action Plans, along with our advocacy and public education work, are about building sustainable frameworks for lasting change in Australia.
A Reconciliation Action Plan (or RAP) is a business plan that turns good intentions into actions. By focusing on building respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians, sustainable opportunities can be created. That’s the simple formula that makes our RAP program so successful, and since 2006, the program has grown to include more than 350 organisations ranging from all levels of government and big corporations to community groups and schools. A RAP publicly formalises an organisation’s contribution to reconciliation by identifying clear actions with realistic targets. By working in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, organisations and leaders, RAPs support organisations to embed cultural change within a whole organisation. Annually, Reconciliation Australia completes an assessment of the impact of the RAP program. The RAP Impact Measurement Report details the significant milestones made by the growing RAP community. View the 2012 Impact Measurement Report here.
The Indigenous Governance Awards were created by Reconciliation Australia in partnership with BHP Billiton to identify, celebrate and promote effective Indigenous governance. Effective Indigenous governance is about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people making and implementing decisions about their communities, lives and futures. The national awards highlight success in Indigenous Australia—strong leadership, good management, effective partnerships and brave, creative thinking. The Awards have been running since 2005.
National Reconciliation Week is held annually from 27 May to 3 June. It is a time to celebrate and build on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
Preceded by National Sorry Day on 26 May, National Reconciliation Week is framed by two key events in Australia’s history, which provide strong symbols for reconciliation:
- 27 May 1967 – the referendum that saw more than 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Australian Government power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and recognise them in the census.
- 3 June 1992 – the Australian High Court delivered the Mabo decision, which recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a special relationship with the land. This paved the way for land rights known as native title.
National Reconciliation Week is an ideal time for everyone to join the reconciliation conversation and reflect on our shared histories, contributions and achievements.
Acknowledgement of contributors
Reconciliation Australia acknowledges and thanks the following people for contributing information and knowledge for this website: Kim Bridge, Western Australia Information on understanding ‘culture’; dreaming and kinship protocols. The late Dr. Marika Information on family and kinship. Tim Muirhead, CSD Network in Perth Information contained in the timeline; impacts of history today; resistance and resisting policies.