In 1991, the Australian Commonwealth Parliament unanimously passed the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Act 1991. This Act implemented a ten-year process that aimed to reconcile Indigenous and non-Indigenous people by the end of 2000. One of the main goals of the reconciliation process was to develop a continuing national commitment to address Indigenous socioeconomic disadvantage in the areas of health, education, housing, employment and law. However, this goal was not achieved by the conclusion of the reconciliation process at the end of 2000.
In this paper for the 2007 Australasian Political Studies Association conference, Andrew Gunstone examines the failure of this socio-economic goal. First, he briefly discusses the appalling levels of Indigenous socio-economic disadvantage. Second, he argues that two interrelated factors significantly contributed to the failure to develop a national commitment to address Indigenous socioeconomic disadvantage during the reconciliation process. These factors were the government approaches to addressing Indigenous socio-economic disadvantage and non-Indigenous people’s attitudes and understandings concerning Indigenous socio-economic disadvantage.