Date: 
Sunday 10 February 2019

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO and the Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan have welcomed today’s release of the Reconciliation Barometer.

The survey conducted every two years since 2008, measures the progress of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. Among the key findings;

• 79% agree that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are important to Australia’s national identity
• 95% believe that it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in matters that affect them
• 80% believe it is important to undertake formal truth telling processes, in relation to Australia’s shared history.

Commissioner Oscar said the results are encouraging, particularly the levels of support for truth telling, healing and self-determination.

“We can deal with the hard truths and history of this country. And it’s critical that we do so, if there’s to be any healing process.

“I’m pleased to see that the majority of Australians agree that we must be making the decisions that determine our futures and that more needs to be done to close the gap,” Commissioner Oscar said.

The Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan said he’s pleased to see that the vast majority of Australians believe it is possible to become united.

“74% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and 72% of the general community believe it’s possible. The survey also found that more Australians would like to do something to improve reconciliation,” Commissioner Tan said.

Disturbingly, the Reconciliation Australia Barometer found that that experiences of racial prejudice have remained steady.

43% of Indigenous Australians experienced at least one form of racial prejudice in the last six months, while 1 in 3 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experienced at least one form of verbal racial abuse. 

Commissioner Chin Tan said the figures were disappointing.

“This report is evidence that we have a lot of work to do. Racism in any form is unacceptable and we must continue to strive for an Australia where people are not treated differently because of the colour of their skin.

“This year, I’m looking forward to travelling and working with my colleague June Oscar AO, to raise awareness about the Racial Discrimination Act and to combat racism at every turn,” Commissioner Tan said.

Commissioner Oscar said she was also disappointed but not surprised by the figures.

“I have consistently been hearing about the experiences of racism and discrimination in my conversations with women and girls for the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project.

“Their voices and their experiences must be heard. We must confront this issue if we are to move forward as a country, Commissioner Oscar said.

Media contact: Lindy Kerin 0430 366 529 or lindy.kerin@humanrights.gov.au