Meanings and Perspectives of Reconciliation in the Australian Socio-political Context

Common Ground
Publication Type:
Journal Article
The International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations, 2007, 6 (5), pp. 69 - 78
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The policy of national reconciliation between Indigenous and non Indigenous peoples has been on the social and political agenda for decades, yet progress on this issue of Australian s unfinished business , seems to have stalled in the last few years. This paper seeks to map the various interpretations and meanings of reconciliation in the Australian sociopolitical context, from the creation of the Council of Aboriginal Reconciliation in 1991, to the controversies emerging from the cultural wars history debates of the last few years. It provides an framework for the various discourses of Reconciliation, by exploring and analysing the accrued meanings to such terms such as genuine or true reconciliation symbolic reconciliation and practical Reconciliation a term used extensively under the Prime Ministership of John Howard. In the current political context in Australia is reconciliation no more than a normative discourse a symbolic gesture by mainstream Australia to maintain the status quo and divert our eyes from the more searching questions of the unfinished business of substantive reconciliation such as the issue of a treaty and just compensations for past injustices for Aboriginal people. This paper suggests that the journey towards reconciliation between black and white Australians is convoluted and complex. It is mired with political and social agendas which are inextricably linked with the national consciousness, with Australia s sense of self, the various views and interpretations of its history, and its multiple national identities. In reality, given the lack of national will to address the substantive issues of reconciliation, the journey still has many a path to tread.
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