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The future is in our hands: Reconciliation direction 2001

By Pat Thompson - posted Thursday, 31 August 2000

There is no doubt in my mind that Reconciliation is heading in the right direction. We - you and I - together are where Reconciliation is heading.

You only need to look at the succession of events around this country this year. At Corroboree 2000 in Sydney, here in Brisbane a week later, with our record march across William Jolly Bridge. In Adelaide, Hobart and most recently in Townsville, to see that this is the case.

All are record turnouts. All have been truly wonderful human experiences for almost everyone who took part in them. These are defining moments in this nation's history.


When the people march in such numbers, I know which side of history I want to be on.

Having said that, though, there is still a long way to go to achieve true reconciliation in this country.

The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation will wind up at the end of this year. As far as I am concerned, CAR has done an enormous job in helping change for the better - how this nation thinks, feels and understands its own history. And its relationship with the Indigenous people of this country.

If you think back to where this country was just 10 years ago and consider where we are today, CAR and the whole process of reconciliation has achieved much. But as the topic for tonight rightly suggests we are not "there" yet. So where do we need to go post-CAR?

First of all, I think that the whole notion of Reconciliation is now embedded in the national psyche like never before. Yet we will still need another 10-20 years of the sort of education and information, consultation at the community level that CAR, the ANTARs and reconciliation groups, and many, many others are doing.

So I am concerned that with CAR out of the picture this grass-roots role and process, and the resources needed to do this, will no longer be there.


What this will mean is the increased importance of ANTAR and Reconciliation groups.

Having said that though, a substantial part of the answer as to where reconciliation ultimately goes must lie with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We have to be able to have a major say in those directions. It is also true that we have and will continue to do so.

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This is an edited extract of a speech given at the Nundah Community Centre on August 8, 2000.

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About the Author

Pat Thompson is ATSIC commissioner for Brisbane.

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