Barometer shows that support for reconciliation is growing, but there’s more to be done
Australians’ support reconciliation and want Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have a say in their own affairs, and this support is increasing, Reconciliation Australia has said, citing the latest results of the Australian Reconciliation Barometer survey.
The findings of the survey, and the work of Reconciliation Australia, will be of interest to those in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector as they seek to fulfil elements of the National Quality Framework (NQF), National Quality Standards (NQS), and the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), as well as their core ethical obligations as educators.
The 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer, a national research study conducted every two years to measure and compare attitudes and perceptions towards reconciliation, has found that an overwhelming number of Australians (90 per cent) believe in the central tenet of reconciliation – that the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important.
Conducted by Reconciliation Australia, the Australian Reconciliation Barometer is the only survey undertaken in Australia which measures the progress of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.
The 2018 Barometer surveyed 497 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and 1,995 other Australians in the general community, across a variety of states and territories. Describing the survey findings as encouraging, Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine said the results pointed towards improved relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
The survey found that 80 per cent of respondents believe it is important to ‘undertake formal truth telling processes’, with 86 per cent believing it is important to learn about past issues. Ms Mundine was also pleased to note that “more Australians than ever before feel a sense of pride for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures” with survey results showing a rise from 50 per cent in 2008 to 62 per cent in 2019.
Ms Mundine said she was heartened by the 2018 results which indicated that the work of Reconciliation Australia and other organisations which promoted reconciliation, the richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and the need to truthfully present Australia’s history, was having a positive impact.
“In welcoming these latest results, I must acknowledge the hard work undertaken by so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people to share the incredible beauty and complexity of our cultures across this continent.”
Ms Mundine said that while it was encouraging to see support for reconciliation grow again in the past two years, “there was still plenty of room for improvement”.
“Disturbingly the barometer found that 33 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced at least one form of verbal racial abuse in the last six months.”
A variety of suggestions were put forward by Ms Mundine as actions which should be taken to “further improve the situation for Australia’s First Nations peoples, and take the next steps towards a reconciled nation.” These include:
- Recommitting to the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG’s) Closing the Gap framework that involves renewing and increasing investments and national, state/territory and regional agreements to meet expanded Closing the Gap targets that are co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
- Developing a deeper reconciliation process through truth, justice and healing, including supporting a process of truth telling, the establishment of a national healing centre, formal hearings to capture stories and bear witness, reform to the school curriculum, and exploration of archives and other records to map massacre sites and understand the magnitude of the many past wrongs;
- Support for addressing unresolved issues of national reconciliation including through legislation setting out the timeframe and process for advancing the issues proposed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart;
- Supporting the national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples – and these efforts must be underpinned by the principles of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly the right to self-determination;
- Investing in, and supporting, anti-racism campaigns and resources including maintaining strong legislative protections against racial discrimination and taking leadership to promote a zero-tolerance approach to racism and discrimination.