Mr Mark Leibler

Board Member, Reconciliation Australia

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

This statement represents an extract from Mark Leibler's address to Reconciliation Victoria on I June, 2000. The full text of his address is displayed on the Reconciliation Australia website www.reconciliationaustralia.org

The extract is reprinted with the permission of Reconciliation Australia, with encouragement to visit their site for other information and resources on reconciliation.

The Future: Reconciliation Australia's Mission

The big questions that we get asked all the time is What Now? What's Next?

The question is one that many Australians want answered - Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islanders, and people from all parts of our diverse wider community. And it's a question that still challenges all of us because getting it right on reconciliation is vital to our future together and to our nation's sense of identity, purpose and pride.

In recent weeks, some commentators have focused on harsh realities facing Indigenous people, including poverty, substance abuse, domestic and sexual violence, and inadequate outcomes from poorly coordinated programs. A common thread of the various commentators is that the everyday circumstances of too many Indigenous families and communities are unacceptable in today's Australia.

Reconciliation Australia has made it a priority to have the social and economic disadvantage of Indigenous Australians addressed. Of course action is required. And practical action is always better when built on policies that themselves spring from a thorough and objective understanding of substantive rights and responsibilities. Causes and consequences are invariably complex. No single theory will fix all. Reasoned debate is necessary. Respect and tolerance are prerequisites.

Reconciliation Australia believes the next step is to inject real substance into the term reconciliation and to deliver tangible outcomes. Reconciliation's progress must be measured by real changes towards social and economic equity for Indigenous peoples and in their relationships with the wider community.

Central to this approach will be the development of partnerships, inclusive of all sectors of Australian society, which address the structural and practical issues involved.

The Board of Reconciliation Australia identified three initial priorities for its work at its first substantial meeting in February this year. These are to:

  • ensure that the social and economic disadvantage of Indigenous peoples is fully addressed;
  • facilitate public discussion on the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the issue of a treaty and or/agreements; and
  • work cooperatively with all parts of the people's movement to develop partnerships and projects, which deliver tangible reconciliation outcomes.

Based on those priorities, Reconciliation Australia's mission is as follows.

To deliver tangible outcomes for reconciliation by forging innovative partnerships to:

  • achieve social and economic equality for Indigenous Australians;
  • strengthen the peoples movement for reconciliation; and
  • acknowledge the past and build a framework for a shared future.

The achievement of these goals is designed to take the nation onto the next essential steps for achieving the ultimate vision of 'A united Australia, which respects this land of ours, values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait heritage and provides justice and equity for all'.