The Australian Reconciliation Barometer is a national research study conducted every two years by Reconciliation Australia, the peak body promoting reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. The study measures and compares attitudes and perceptions in Australia towards reconciliation.

Reconciliation Australia CEO, Karen Mundine, said that this latest Barometer once again showed a steady strengthening of the indicators for reconciliation and improved relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians, although there was “still plenty of room for improvement.”

Reconciliation Australia promotes that while achieving reconciliation requires a range of interrelated strategies, at the core of reconciliation is the relationship between the first Australians and those who have come since. To improve this relationship and create an environment of trust and respect, without racism, which provides equal life chances for all Australians, it is necessary to track and understand the values, attitudes and perceptions which shape this relationship and influence our social interactions and structures. This is the purpose of this national survey.

This process also attempts to identify opportunities for moving the relationship forward towards national unity where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights, histories and cultures are valued and recognised as part of a shared national identity.

Reconciliation Australia undertook a review of reconciliation in Australia and internationally, and as a result of this work, five critical dimensions that together represent a holistic and comprehensive picture of reconciliation were identified. These dimensions do not exist in isolation. They are interrelated and Reconciliation Australia contends that Australia can only achieve full reconciliation if we make progress in all five areas.

Five Dimensions of Reconciliation (as identified by Reconciliation Australia)

Race Relations

At the heart of reconciliation is the relationship between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To achieve reconciliation, we need to develop strong relationships built on trust and respect, and that are free of racism.

Equality and Equity

Reconciliation is more likely to progress when Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians participate equally and equitably in all areas of life. To make this happen we have to close the gaps in life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and achieve universal recognition and respect for the distinctive collective rights and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Institutional Integrity

The active support of reconciliation by the nation’s political, business and community structures.

Unity

In a reconciled Australia, national unity means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights, histories and cultures are valued and recognised as part of a shared national identity.

Historical Acceptance

We can’t change the past but we can learn from it. We can make amends and we can ensure mistakes are never repeated. Our nation’s past is reflected in the present and unless we can heal historical wounds, they will continue to play out in our country’s future.

The Australian Reconciliation Barometer survey questions align closely with these five dimensions. The latest 2018 Barometer surveyed a national sample of 497 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and 1995 non-Indigenous Australians across all states and territories.

Below is a snapshot of some of the key findings:

  • 90% of Australians believe the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians is important, with Queensland being above the national average at 92%;
  • While there is widespread agreement the relationship is important, high trust for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is lacking across the general communities of all States and Territories;
  • 79% of Australians believe that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are important to Australia’s national identity;
  • 95% of Australians believe that it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples to have a say in matters that affect them;
  • 80% of Australians believe it is important to undertake a formal “truth telling” process to acknowledge the reality of Australia’s shared history;
  • 86% of Australians believe it is important to learn about past issues;
  • 62% of Australians feel a sense of pride for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures (which has risen from 50% since 2008);
  • 43% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced at least one form of verbal racial abuse in the last six months;
  • 63% of Australians never or rarely socialise with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians;
  • 67% of Australians reject the notion that non-Indigenous Australians are superior to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians;
  • Younger Australians (18 – 24 years) are generally more positive about the future than other age groups;
  • 73% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would like to do something to help improve reconciliation, compared to 54% of the general community;
  • 81% of the general community believe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures should be recognised in the Constitution;
  • 64% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents support a treaty, compared to 47% of the general community;
  • More Australians believe it is possible to become united –74% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and 72% of Australians in the general community.

A lot to be heartened by and also some things to be worried about in terms of national progress towards reconciliation. What would the Reconciliation Barometer look like for our sector in Queensland?

For more information visit Reconciliation Australia.