Reconciliation is a form of agreement that deals with the legacies of our history, provides justice for all, and takes us forward as a nation. It is the process of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islanders and non Aboriginal Australians moving forward into a phase of mutual recognition of healing and justice. Reconciliation began in 1939 on Australia day where the Indigenous people called a Day of Mourning which was a call for recognition.
The process of Reconciliation has also had an impact on Australia as a whole. Effective changes in Australia have been witnessed since 1945 as greater awareness and compassion to Aboriginal Spiritual Perspectives has influenced the development of an ecological awareness in the spirituality of other Australians. As European settlement spread across Australia in the late 1780s, many Indigenous people where forced off their lands obligated to start over in foreign places away from their tradition land.
The early settlers destroyed their links to the land, spirituality and culture; during that time, Indigenous Australians were racially inferior to Europeans and it was believed the Europeans that the Indigenous People would soon die out. Colonial Australians had begun this process of dispossession through the cultivation of the ‘empty’ land theory: Terra nullius. Dispossession broke up Aboriginal nations and distributed the religious and cultural beliefs and practices around which their lives have centered. Not only had they lost their land and their culture, but also their understanding of their place in life.
The main concern of dispossession was the land and their kinship. In the 1960s there where various actions that led towards the Aboriginal People gaining the rights that they deserve. These included the Freedom Riders where they fought for voting rights and The Wave Hill Strike in 1966 where Vincent Lingiari led people to a walk-off to protest over wages and living conditions. In 1995 the Federal Government established an investigation towards the Aboriginal People called The National Inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their Families.
This investigation was undertaken by the (HREOC) Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. The investigation found that between one in three and one in ten Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities between 1910 and 1970. Through Dispossession, people who were forcibly removed from their families were more likely to have a high criminal rate. Christian and Jewish Missionaries contributed gratefully to the breakdown of the Aboriginal language and culture.
Although, some missionaries did ironically contribute to their survival and took on a role to speak up for the rights of Aboriginal people. The Policy of protection and the missions did lead to dispossession and affect the expression of Aboriginal Spirituality; two of the greatest factors were separation from the land and kinship. Then In 1998, combined churches, including the Catholic Church missionaries, released a statement stating “Towards Reconciliation in Australian Society – Reconciliation and Aboriginal Australia”
In 2008 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd presented a speech to the “Stolen Generation” (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) to apologise for past events which apologised for the policies and laws which had inflicted grief, suffering and loss to the Stolen Generation. “For the suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry. ” The 13 of February each year is now officially “Sorry day” in remembrance of Kevin Rudd’s apology.
Due to the development of reconciliation, there have been many positive impacts on Australian individuals as well as communities. They have progressively seen the importance of relating themselves in public debate, of being a voice in a growing society and an evolving world. John Paul II visited Alice Springs in 1986 and said “There is a need for a just and proper settlement that still lies unachieved in Australia’. From the Pope (as an authority figure for the Catholic Church) saying this, many positive actions toward the reconciliation of Indigenous Australians has occurred from the Catholic Church.
Through this, it has brought greater awareness and most of the mainstream churches have started to incorporate traditional Aboriginal cultural practices into various aspects of church life. These include their ceremonies, rituals and Aboriginal ministries. Not only have the churches incorporated Traditional Aboriginal practices, but Aboriginal people have also incorporated Christian beliefs into their existing Aboriginal beliefs. “I believe in both ways-our own and the Christian. ” – Badangga if Echo Island, 2004.
In conclusion, Reconciliation has been a great success for the Aboriginal People in gaining the rights and respect in which they deserve. All past events have had major influences and have brought greater awareness to Individuals, communities and Australia as a whole. For the future, there has been great success in eliminating the disadvantages that the Aboriginal Australians have towards the white Australians. But in saying that, there is also the uncertainty of how ordinary Australians will be able to cope with the idea of the Indigenous Australia.
•Reconciliation Australia. (2005). Reconciliation Timetable. Available: http://www. reconciliation. org. au/home/reconciliation-resources/significant-events—anniversaries/reconciliation-timeline. Last accessed [21/11/11] BOOKS •Coleman, N. (2006). Religious Expression in Australia since 1945. In: Coleman, N Spotlight Studies of Religion. Australia: Science Press. •Morrissey, j. (2010). Religion and belief systems in Australia post-1945. In: Janet Morrissey. and Taylor, A Living Religion. 4th ed. Australia: Pearson Education Australia. 219-223.