Journey without end: Reconciliation between Australia's Indigenous and settler peoples

Author/editor: Sanders, WG
Year published: 2002
Issue no.: 237

Abstract

This paper examines the history of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (CAR) in Australia from 1991 to 2001 and argues that reconciliation between Australia's Indigenous and settler peoples was never likely to be achieved in that time frame. Reconciliation, it argues, will be a matter of many decades or even hundreds of years, rather than just one decade of directed policy effort. The second half of the paper revisits an analysis of the reconciliation process written by Richard Mulgan in early 1996. Following Mulgan, the paper argues for a theoretical basis for reconciliation which moves beyond guilt and blame. However, also following Mulgan, it recognises the political and social difficulties of achieving this. The mission of CAR was, from the outset, overambitious and unrealistic. Though the paper pays considerable attention to the role of the Howard government in the inconclusive fading away of CAR, ultimately it argues that a somewhat similar demise was likely for the Council whatever government was in power in 2001. Reconciliation between Australia's Indigenous and settler peoples will be a long time coming; to all intents and purposes it will be a journey without end.

ISBN: 0 7315 5612 7

ISSN:1036 1774

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