State of reconciliation in Australia 2016

and others
10 February 2016

Twenty-five years after the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (CAR), this report examines the state of reconciliation in Australia today. The report uses a five dimensional framework of reconciliation to measure and analyse Australia’s progress over this time and set out a roadmap for a reconciled Australia. The intention is to spark a renewed national conversation about how, over the next 25 years, we can move towards becoming a reconciled, just and equitable Australia.


Australia has a long history of reconciliation and countless people—Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous—have dedicated their life’s work to the reconciliation movement. As a result, many significant steps have been taken.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Australia’s colonial history is characterised by devastating land dispossession, violence, and overt and unapologetic racism. Over the last half-century, however, Australia has made some remarkable progress towards national reconciliation. This journey reminds us that reconciliation is a work in progress—generations of people have fought hard for meaningful change and future gains are likely to take just as long.

In the 25 years since CAR was established, the concept of reconciliation has taken a holistic approach that encompasses rights, as well as so-called symbolic and practical actions. Over this time, reconciliation has introduced a greater focus on the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians and opened up national debate on prejudice, discrimination and racism.

It has raised broader questions about our national identity and the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and rights in our nation’s story. Reconciliation can no longer be seen as a single issue or agenda and the contemporary definition of reconciliation must weave all of these threads together.

To develop a framework to measure Australia’s progress towards reconciliation across these many dimensions, Reconciliation Australia undertook a review of reconciliation in Australia and internationally. As a result of this work, five critical dimensions that together represent a holistic and comprehensive picture of reconciliation were identified.

The five dimensions (Figure i) identified to measure reconciliation in Australia are:

  • Ÿ race relations
  • Ÿ equality and equity
  • Ÿ institutional integrity Ÿ
  •  unity
  • Ÿ historical acceptance


Working group members

  1. Ms Leah Armstrong
  2. Ms Josephine Bourne
  3. Ms Charlee-Sue Frail
  4. Mr Simon Gordon
  5. Prof. Andrew Markus
  6. Ms Carla McGrath
  7. Ms Karen Mundine
  8. Mr Darryl Nelson
  9. Ms Liz Potter
  10. Prof. Tim Rowse
  11. Ms Natalie Walker

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Suggested Citation

Leah Armstrong, 2016, State of reconciliation in Australia 2016, Reconciliation Australia, viewed 24 April 2017, <>.

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