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Social Justice Report 2001: Chapter 6: Reconciliation – National progress one year on

Social Justice Report 2001

Chapter 6: Reconciliation
– National progress one year on


Introduction

The
year 2000: the first phase of reconciliation ends

Implementing
reconciliation

The
federal government’s response to reconciliation

1)
Direct responses to the reconciliation documents and final report

2)
The national communiqué by the Council of Australian Governments

3)
Reconciliation Australia and Reconciliation Place

4)
Practical reconciliation

5)
Domestic violence and abuse in Indigenous communities

6)
Human rights and reconciliation

Recommendations
on reconciliation

Conclusion
– Stopping the unstoppable?


Introduction

In its final
recommendations, the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation proposed
that there be a legislative requirement for the Social Justice Commissioner
to monitor progress towards reconciliation on an annual basis. In
the Social Justice Report 2000 it was noted that while legislative
amendment to this end was desirable, this task could be undertaken
under my existing functions. Accordingly, I undertook to provide an
annual evaluation of progress towards reconciliation as part of the
social justice report. This chapter constitutes the review of the
first year since the Council’s final report and recommendations
to Parliament. It does not seek to provide an exhaustive audit of
all programs and policies that can be seen as consistent with the
approach recommended by the Council. As discussed in the introductory
chapter, such an approach would replicate to an extent the unsatisfactory
approach to implementation adopted for the Royal Commission into Aboriginal
Deaths in Custody. Instead, this chapter examines the measures adopted
to implement reconciliation and ensure that it is ongoing; and processes
for measuring and evaluating outcomes of these commitments. It seeks
to determine whether the federal government has begun to implement
the recommendations of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation,
as well as the fourteen recommendations on reconciliation which were
contained in the Social Justice Report 2000. It particularly
focuses on the necessity for national leadership to maintain the momentum
created over ten years by the Council.

The
year 2000: the first phase of reconciliation ends

The year 2000
marked the end of the first, formal, phase of reconciliation in which
the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (herein CAR or the Council)
identified progress to date and the job still ahead for reconciliation
to be achieved. At no time did the Council suggest that reconciliation
would be achieved by 2000. It was also the year in which the Council
handed over control of the reconciliation process to governments and
the Australian people to advance (after taking into consideration
the work and recommendations of the Council). After ten years of reconciliation,
in which there was increased understanding among the broader community
of the circumstances of Indigenous people, the time came for governments
to make commitments to addressing the issues that had been raised.

During its final
year, the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation presented to the nation
the Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation and the Roadmap
for Reconciliation
at Corroboree 2000 on 27 May 2000. The Council
advised the Prime Minister that these documents constituted its formal
recommendations in relation to the ‘nature and content’
of documents of reconciliation, as required to be submitted at the
end of the Council’s term under section 6(1)(h) of the Council
for Aboriginal Reconciliation Act 1991
(Cth). The Roadmap involved
four strategies for reconciliation: overcoming disadvantage; achieving
economic independence; recognition of Indigenous rights; and sustaining
the reconciliation process.

Corroboree 2000
was followed the next day by the walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge
and walks in other cities, in what has been the strongest display
of the ‘people’s movement’ for reconciliation to date.
The final report of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Australia’s
challenge
, was then tabled in federal Parliament on 7 December
2000. [1] Australia’s challenge made
a further 6 recommendations to the Prime Minister in relation to the
‘manner of giving effect’ to the documents of reconciliation
which it had presented at Corroborree 2000.

The six recommendations
of the final report focused on the processes necessary to implement
reconciliation by ensuring that governments were accountable for their
efforts, through the establishment of national commitments and monitoring
and evaluation mechanisms, as well as ensuring that they proceeded
in a manner that involved negotiation with Indigenous peoples. The
6 recommendations called for:

  • The Council
    of Australian Governments to agree to implement and monitor a national
    framework for all governments and ASTIC to work to overcome Indigenous
    disadvantage through setting benchmarks that are measurable, have
    timelines, are agreed with Indigenous peoples and publicly reported
    (recommendation 1);
  • All parliaments
    and local governments to pass formal motions of support for the
    two documents of reconciliation (the Declaration and the Roadmap)
    and to enshrine their principles in appropriate legislation and
    determine how the key recommendations can be implemented in their
    jurisdictions (recommendation 2);
  • The federal
    Parliament to prepare legislation for a referendum to recognise
    Indigenous people as first peoples in the preamble to the Constitution
    and remove section 25 of the Constitution, and introduce a constitutional
    prohibition of racial discrimination (recommendation 3);
  • All sectors
    of society affirm the declaration and take steps to action the roadmap,
    as well as provide resources for reconciliation, undertake educational
    and public awareness activities to improve understanding and relations,
    and support Reconciliation Australia (recommendation 4);
  • Each government
    and parliament recognise that the settlement of Australia took place
    without consent or treaty and accept the desirability of negotiating
    agreements or treaties to progress reconciliation, and enter into
    negotiations to establish a process to achieve this purpose and
    to ensure adequate protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples
    (recommendation 5); and
  • The federal
    Parliament enact legislation to put into place a process for resolving
    unfinished business and to commence a treaty or agreement process
    (a draft Reconciliation Bill was appended to the report as
    a draft)(recommendation 6).

Having met its
obligations to recommend to the federal Parliament the appropriate
processes for achieving reconciliation, the Council for Aboriginal
Reconciliation ceased to exist on 31 December 2000 and the first ten
year phase of the reconciliation process ended.

The Social
Justice Report 2000
was transmitted to the federal Attorney-General
on 21 December 2000 and tabled in parliament 3 months later on 28
March 2001. It outlined a human rights framework for reconciliation,
to ensure the adequate protection of Indigenous rights during the
next implementation phase of the reconciliation process. The report
outlined a rights framework for reconciliation, based on the following
four inter-related principles:

  • No discrimination:
    A guarantee of equal treatment and protection for all, extending
    to recognising cultural distinctiveness of Indigenous peoples and
    the adoption of special measures to redress historically derived
    disadvantage;
  • Progressive
    realisation:

    The commitment of sufficient resources through well-targeted programs
    to ensure adequate progress in the realization of rights on a non-discriminatory
    basis;
  • Effective
    participation:
    ensuring
    the participation of Indigenous people in decisions that affect
    them, including in the design and delivery of programs; and
  • Effective
    remedies:
    the provision of mechanisms for redress where human
    rights are violated.

It identified
three key structural areas for this framework to be implemented, namely
redressing Indigenous disadvantage and ensuring progressive realisation;
strengthening Indigenous governance; and recognising and protecting
Indigenous rights in a federal system. The report recommended fourteen
recommendations to progress this framework, the features of which
were:

  • An unqualified
    national commitment to redressing Indigenous disadvantage through
    the adoption of a long term strategy which progressively reduces
    the level of disadvantage and ensures whole of government and cross-governmental
    coordination;
  • The facilitation
    of adequate, nationally consistent data collection to guide decision
    making and reporting, with appropriate monitoring and evaluation
    mechanisms;
  • The agreement
    of benchmarks and targeted outcomes through negotiation with Indigenous
    peoples and organisations, state, territory and local governments
    and service delivery organisations, with clear timeframes for achieving
    longer term and short term goals;
  • National
    leadership to facilitate inter-governmental cooperation and coordination;
  • The development
    of greater partnership approaches to ensure the full and effective
    participation of Indigenous peoples in the design and delivery of
    services; and
  • The adequate
    protection of human rights, including through constitutional protection,
    and negotiations on mechanisms such as agreements and treaties to
    overcome the structural inequalities caused by the systemic racism
    and lack of recognition of Indigenous cultures in the past. [2]

The recommendations
of the Social Justice Report 2000 complement those of the Council
for Aboriginal Reconciliation, and specify the central position that
human rights must take for meaningful reconciliation to be achieved.
It is appropriate that these two sets of recommendations be examined
together in determining the adequacy of progress towards reconciliation
at the end of its first phase.

Implementing
reconciliation

In 1996, the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
prepared a report on Indigenous Deaths in Custody from 1989-1996 which
considered the appropriateness of the implementation process for the
Royal Commission recommendations.[3]

The report identified
a number of stages in an adequate implementation process, which include
reviewing current activities; developing policies and programs; setting
goals or targets; allocating responsibility for implementation; and
establishing evaluation mechanisms.[4]

The report found
that monitoring was not useful unless there is a considered plan for
implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations. It
noted that the lack of holistic, whole of government approaches to
the Royal Commission resulted in a ‘public affairs’ approach
to monitoring and reporting, which listed existing programs and initiatives
under the guise of being a response to the recommendations of the
Royal Commission. In many instances, this was done at the end of a
reporting period and therefore with no conscious consideration of
the implications of the recommendations for program design and delivery.
The Social Justice Commissioner’s report observed that ‘state
agencies responsible for the implementation of recommendations reach
the end of their reporting cycle without any coherent plan for the
implementation, and without real ability to assess progress’.
[5]

A pivotal issue
identified by the report for improving reporting mechanisms was the
need to ensure state and territory accountability with the federal
system:

the mechanics
of the federal system work against accountability. The Royal Commission
was a Commonwealth undertaking. The Commonwealth has a funding role,
a leadership role in pressing the states for implementation, and
an operational role in limited areas. But the recommendations were
largely directed at state and territory governments and agencies

[6]...

The report suggested
that state and territory accountability could be improved through
the adoption of a more active leadership role by the Commonwealth,
including forms of leverage to ensure compliance such as performance
conditions on grants to states and territories.

In relation to
reconciliation, an initial question which needs to be considered is
what constitutes a response to the recommendations of the Council
for Aboriginal Reconciliation and the social justice report. It is
reasonable to expect that at the end of a ten year process, governments
would at a minimum engage in the stages outlined above.

It is expected
that they would review their current activities through consultation
with Indigenous people, given the concerns and priorities identified
by the recommendations, and that this review process would feed into
the development of ongoing and new policy and program initiatives.
It is also expected as an absolute minimum that they would identify
targets and benchmarks against which their performance can be measured
and for which they can be held accountable. And it is further expected
that they would identify lead agencies that are responsible for carrying
out particular initiatives as well as establish mechanisms by which
efforts can be evaluated.

It can also be
reasonably expected that a ten year, multi-million dollar process,
which is of such pivotal importance to the development of Australian
society, would receive a formal response so that all members of the
Australian community are clear as to the level of commitment provided
by the government.

We should also
expect national coordination of reconciliation in order to prevent
a repeat of the mistakes of the past, especially in regard to ensuring
adequate accountability, transparency, effective monitoring and long-term
planning.

Twelve months
on from the release of the Council’s final report, however, governments
have once more provided words of support for the Council’s approach
and the reconciliation process in general but have not engaged in
any of these stages of implementation. None has offered a formal response
to the final recommendations of the Council. [7]
In their report card on reconciliation released on 28 November 2001,
Reconciliation Australia Co-Chairs Fred Chaney and Shelley Reys noted
a ‘lack of progress and unfinished business on several fronts,
including… little response from governments as yet to the final
recommendations of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, which
were released in the Council’s final report a year ago’.[8]

The
federal government’s response to reconciliation

[T]here
can be no doubt that the mood of the Australian community is overwhelmingly
in favour of reconciliation. It is and should be an unstoppable
force.[9]

Prime
Minister, Launch of the Council for Aboriginal
Reconciliation’s Final Report to Parliament

This chapter
focuses on the response of the federal government, and its leadership
role in relation to the states and territories. This section examines
six key features of the government’s approach to reconciliation
over the past eighteen months. An overview of processes which have
been initiated in the states and territories is considered in brief
in Appendix Two.

1) Direct
responses to the reconciliation documents and final report

One could expect
that the documents which were the outcome of a ten-year process would
be met with an all encompassing national response. The Council of
Australian Governments (COAG), led by the Prime Minister, has agreed
a communiqué on reconciliation which adopts the first recommendation
of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. Aside from this initiative
(the significance of the COAG commitment is discussed further below),
there has been no formal, comprehensive public response by the federal
government to the reconciliation documents handed to the government
at Corroboree 2000 or the recommendations of the Council for Aboriginal
Reconciliation’s final report of December 2000. This is despite
the passage of twelve months since the final report and eighteen months
since the documents of reconciliation were released.There is limited
material available which explicitly identifies the government’s
view on the recommendations in anything more than a general sense.
The most specific material that exists is a press statement issued
prior to Corroboree 2000, and speeches by the Prime Minister at Corroboree
2000 and the launch of the final report of the Council.

On the eve of
Corroborree 2000, the Prime Minister released a press release which
stated in relation to the Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation
that:

although
there was significant agreement between the government and the Council
for Aboriginal Reconciliation, in several areas it has not been
possible for the government to give its full support to the document
finally adopted by the Council... The areas of difference relate
to customary law, the general application of the laws of Australia
to all citizens, self determination and a national apology as distinct
from an expression of sorrow and sincere regret
.[10]

In relation to
the Roadmap for Reconciliation the Prime Minister commented
that ‘there are numerous points of agreement. However, on some
important aspects, the Minister assisting me on Reconciliation has
informed the Council of the government’s reservations’.[11]
It has been reported that the government had particular difficulties
with the strategy for the recognition of rights, but at no stage since
the release of the documents have the government explicitly outlined
those areas of the documents with which they have reservations.

In the press
release, the Prime Minister also stated:

Although
there will be an inevitable focus on these areas of difference,
it remains the fact that there is common ground between the government
and the Council on most of the sentiments contained in the document.
It is also the case that there is common commitment to the process
of reconciliation
.[12]

Statements such
as this, which assure people that the government is committed to reconciliation,
have been regularly made over the past eighteen months without any
discussion of what exactly they are committed to. In relation to the
final report of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, for example,
the Prime Minister stated at the launch that:

We will
consider the propositions that are contained in the document. We
will of course as a government consider them against the background
of positions that we have stated previously. But I can assure you…
that we will consider them in a spirit of immense good will and
a desire to the maximum extent possible, given some different perspectives,
to achieve the maximum level of agreement and the maximum level
of harmony… I can assure you that reconciliation will, not
withstanding the expiry of the Council’s legislative remit,
remain a major focus of the Government.
[13]

The only response
to specific recommendations of the final report can be found in a
question on notice in Parliament on the day that the final report
was released. The Prime Minister stated:

Without
in any way wishing to walk away from the spirit that was displayed
at this morning’s breakfast… the government has certain
reservations about the concept of a treaty. What I had to say this
morning was seen as a clear statement of very strong support for
reconciliation. What I had to say this morning was said against
the background of the views that we had previously expressed in
relation to a treaty, and those views remain… we [must] try
to focus as much as we possibly can on those areas where all of
us agree, and there are many areas of agreement in relation to reconciliation...
Those things where we agree on reconciliation are much greater,
more important, stronger and more enduring that those areas where
we disagree.
[14]

On 5 April 2001,
Senator Ridgeway lodged a Private Members Bill in the Senate which
sought to implement recommendation 6 of the final report of the Council
for Aboriginal Reconciliation. The bill was the draft legislation
appended to the Council’s final report and included legislative
recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as the
First Peoples of Australia; establishment of a series of National
Reconciliation Conventions; and a requirement that the Prime Minister
commence negotiations with ATSIC to develop a process by way of a
treaty or an agreement to address the unresolved issues of reconciliation.
Implementation of the Bill’s objectives require monitoring on
a regular basis by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social
Justice Commissioner, a Joint Parliamentary Committee, and an independent
body appointed by the Minister. Consideration of the Bill was the
only other potential occasion for the recommendations of the Council
for Aboriginal Reconciliation to be discussed in Parliament. However,
the Bill is yet to appear on the notice sheets for Senate debate.

Most other material
about the government’s approach to reconciliation tell us generally
that they are committed to practical reconciliation. For example,
in the Menzies lecture the Prime Minister stated:

Symbolic
expressions of support are important. However, they are given real
meaning when backed with improvements in living standards. That
is why we place a great degree of emphasis on practical reconciliation…
True reconciliation is, in our view, to be best found within practical
means to improve the well-being and happiness of indigenous Australians
and raising standards to levels enjoyed and expected by all of us
.[15]

But again, this
material is so general that it does not tell us specifically
what their response to the recommendations of the Council is. Indeed,
the government have never outlined whether the recommendations of
the Council are consistent or not with practical reconciliation. It
impliedly tells us that there are some things with which they do not
agree – but not what they are or why.

In terms of a
process of implementation it is difficult, in fact, to identify any
public material that demonstrates that the government has engaged
in a good faith process to consider the Council’s recommendations
through reviewing their current programs and policies and consulting
and negotiating with Indigenous peoples about ways to improve these.
Indeed, there has been no follow up to the statement by the Prime
Minister on the day of the launch of the Council’s final report
that:

I have received
on behalf of the government… the final report of the council.
It contains a number of recommendations. We will consider all of
those recommendations
.[16]

Indeed, my concern
with the lack of response to the reconciliation documents by the government
goes further than this. Not only has the federal government not explicitly
responded to the CAR documents, they have quite deliberately sought
to shut down debate and avoid any engagement about them by stating
that they are committed to practical reconciliation.

An example which
illustrates these attempts to close the debate is the response of
the government to last year’s Social Justice Report. In
his letter advising me that the report had been tabled in parliament,
the Attorney-General stated that the ‘report raises many issues
important to the government. The report will be a helpful resource
as the Government considers its ongoing approach to these issues’.[17]
In a joint press release with the Minister for Reconciliation and
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs the day before, the
Attorney-General stated that ‘the government acknowledges the
important work of the Social Justice Commissioner in helping to draw
attention to the profound levels of disadvantage faced by Indigenous
Australians’ and that the government ‘are pleased that the
Social Justice Report commends the government’s action in relation
to the number of Indigenous-specific policies’.[18]
With praise accepted, the news release then considered the critical
aspects of the report as follows:

It is not
unexpected that the Social Justice Report includes a number of criticisms
but the government believes that these add nothing new to the debate
about Indigenous rights and reconciliation in Australia.
[19]

There is no mention
of the existence of fourteen recommendations in the report, and no
response to any of them. While I don’t agree with the assessment
of the report’s contents in any way, the rejection of a series
of criticisms of the government on the basis that they are ‘not
new’ simply does not address the point. This merely admits that
the criticisms have been made at sometime in the past and dismisses
them on this basis – pretending they are no longer relevant.
It is of course one of the greatest frustrations for Indigenous people
that many of the criticisms of government policies, and many of the
solutions, have been identified time and again. Their re-emergence
suggests the inadequacy of government responses, not any inherent
flaw in the recommendations. Often it is not innovation or ‘newness’
that is required – merely application of existing commitments
or of knowledge learnt.

The function
under which this report is completed states that ‘the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner is to submit
a report regarding the enjoyment and exercise of human rights by Aboriginal
persons and Torres Strait Islanders, and including recommendations
as to the action that should be taken
to ensure the exercise and
enjoyment of human rights by those persons’.[20]
The legislation also requires that the Attorney-General table the
report in Parliament. In other words, the Commissioner is obliged
to submit recommendations where appropriate to the federal Parliament
through the Minister’s tabling. I believe that this requirement
to submit recommendations to the federal Parliament, which provides
public scrutiny of the government’s approach, is accompanied
by an expectation from Parliament that the government will inform
it of its response to the report. In the conclusion of this chapter
I make recommendations which relate to these concerns that I have
raised.

2) The
national communiqué by the Council of Australian Governments

An important
response to the recommendations of CAR has been provided by the agreement
by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to a communiqué
on reconciliation on 3 November 2000. [21] The communiqué
predates, but is consistent with, recommendation 1 of CAR’s final
report.

The Council of
Australian Governments is comprised of the Prime Minister, Premiers
and Chief Ministers of the states and territories, and the President
of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).

The communiqué
acknowledges the work of CAR and commits itself to advancing reconciliation
in regard to social and economic disadvantage through a nationally-coordinated
reconciliation framework. COAG’s approach is based on partnerships
and shared responsibilities with Indigenous communities; programme
flexibility; and coordination between government agencies, with a
focus on local communities and outcomes. Its three agreed priority
areas for action are community leadership; reviewing and re-engineering
programmes and services to achieve better outcomes for Indigenous
peoples; and building links between the business sector and Indigenous
communities to advance economic independence. The communiqué
provides for periodic review of progress on reconciliation, with its
first review to take place at the end of a twelve month period.

Under this framework,
25 Commonwealth/State Ministerial Councils are to develop action plans,
benchmarks and reporting strategies within 12 months for improving
outcomes for Indigenous people. The Ministerial Council on Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (MCATSIA) is to coordinate and
monitor this process, and was required to report back to COAG in November
2001 on the Councils’ action plans and strategies. MCATSIA’s
role is also to include advising COAG about where gaps in policy and
program development and service delivery remain, and where further
improvements can be made in producing sustainable outcomes for Indigenous
people. At this stage, action plans have been developed, ratified
and endorsed but the progress report will not be available to COAG
until early 2002, and it is yet to be decided whether it will be a
public document. Given the significance of the progress report to
advancing reconciliation it would be in the national interest for
this document to be available for comment and evaluation.

The communiqué
is a significant development to progress reconciliation. It cannot,
however, be seen as a total response to the recommendations of CAR
or by itself as an adequate response of governments. This is due first
to the fact that the communiqué does not respond to significant
aspects of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation’s recommendations,
particularly issues that relate to the recognition of rights and some
of the symbolic aspects of CAR’s proposals.

The CAR chairperson
and the Deputy Chairperson welcomed COAG’s leadership role and
the commitments made toward reconciliation, but also warned that ‘the
1992 COAG National Commitment is an example of fine words that produced
no real or lasting outcomes, and this 2000 agreement must not repeat
this experience’.[22]

While COAG’s
commitments to reconciliation are consistent to an extent with some
of the recommendations in the Social Justice Report 2000 that relate
to the making of a long term national commitment to redressing Indigenous
disadvantage, [23] I remain concerned about the
COAG arrangement. In relation to the monitoring of Bringing them home
by MCATSIA on behalf of COAG, I have previously expressed concerns
relating to the insufficient information that is publicly available
which limits the accountability of governments. I also expressed concerns
about the adequacy of monitoring processes, lack of consultation with
Indigenous people and lack of independence in the evaluation of government
responses. [24] This also applies to the approach
to reconciliation.

3) Reconciliation
Australia and Reconciliation Place

In the past year
the federal government made the following contributions to the ongoing
reconciliation process: seed funding for the establishment of Reconciliation
Australia; full tax deductibility status for all donations to Reconciliation
Australia; [25] and funding for the construction
of a monument to reconciliation to be located in the Parliamentary
triangle and named Reconciliation Place.

On 22 May 2001,
the government announced the creation of Reconciliation Place in the
Parliamentary triangle in Canberra. The announcement noted that:

The development
of a reconciliation square would be historic as it would represent
the first truly integrated national symbol recognising indigenous
people and our desire as a nation to share a harmonious future.
[It]…will place the reconciliation process physically and symbolically
at the heart of Australia’s democratic life and institutions.
It will signify the importance the government places on the ongoing
process of reconciliation and be a prominent symbol of the nation’s
commitment to healing the wounds of the past.
[26]

The square, and
memorial contained within it, is intended to acknowledge ‘the
history of the nation’s first people; our shared history and
common bonds; the separation of many indigenous people from their
families as a result of past practices, and the ongoing consequences;
and the significant achievements of indigenous people’, [27]
among other things.

Since this announcement,
there has been significant disquiet among Indigenous people over the
lack of consultation about the contents of the square, the design
of the square as well as a number of components contained within.
Representative organisations of Indigenous people forcibly removed
from their families, for example, have protested at the manner of
the depiction of their experiences in the monument. In their first
Reconciliation report card, Reconciliation Australia expressed concern
at the lack of adequate consultation with the stolen generations or
the organisations representing them, and put on public record the
Board’s belief that ‘the process of developing the new Reconciliation
Place in Canberra did not adequately reflect the goals or the spirit
of reconciliation.’ They stated that:

To apply
the Reconciliation Test to Reconciliation Place is to ask whether
the manner of establishing it is consistent with the Prime Minister’s
stated intention of contributing to reconciliation. In particular,
does it reflect a true partnership with Indigenous peoples –
a shared journey together?
[28]

As the Canberra
Times commented on the government’s approach to the building
of Reconciliation Place:

[I]t appears
to reflect a European mindset that is the antithesis of the attitudes
that it is seeking to commemorate. It is almost as though reconciliation,
like so much else in the Aboriginal story, is to be imposed on indigenous
Australians.
[29]

Reconciliation
Place has the potential to provide long overdue acknowledgement to
the place of Indigenous Australians in our history. Early indications
are that it may not meet this purpose, and may in fact contribute
to further alienation and distrust for many Indigenous people.

The government
has also provided $5.5 million funding for the establishment of Reconciliation
Australia, as well as tax deductibility status for all donations.
It is an independent, non-profit private company established by CAR
to maintain a national focus for the reconciliation process and the
people’s movement for reconciliation, to report on progress to
the Australian community, circulate information, encourage partnerships
and provide forums for discussion.

Reconciliation
Australia is in the process of developing partnerships with sectors
of the Australian community, with a particular emphasis on establishing
partnerships with other non-government organizations that result in
tangible outcomes for Indigenous peoples. Partnerships have been initiated
with Indigenous Business Australia the National Institute of Governance,
as well as with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission
and state and territory Governments.

Reconciliation
Australia’s strategic plan for 2001-2003 targets three goals
based on the reconciliation documents with specific action areas to
progress – achieve social and economic equity for Indigenous
Australians; strengthen the people’s movement for reconciliation;
and acknowledge the past and build a framework for a shared future.
Some of these action areas also link in with the COAG commitments,
including adoption of a proactive role to encourage rigorous monitoring
of Australian governments; identification of best practice in service
delivery; improving Indigenous access to banking and financial services,
identification and promotion of best practice in Indigenous governance
through the provision of appropriate training, education and capacity-building;
promotion of Indigenous economic self-sufficiency; and establishment
of a national support network for youth mentoring and of a national
friends for reconciliation program.

The efforts that
have been made by Reconciliation Australia to date demonstrate much
potential. However, it appears that the Federal Government has effectively
transferred responsibility for moving forward the reconciliation process
to a private, non-government institution. Concerns with this approach
include the following.

Reconciliation
Australia has been presented by the federal government as the ‘successor’
[30] to the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
There are, however, significant differences between the Council and
Reconciliation Australia. As stated, Reconciliation Australia is a
not-for profit private company. It is not a government authority and
its operation and objectives have not been mandated by Parliament.
Its relationship with government at all levels is accordingly based
on goodwill rather than any mandatory requirements.

Reconciliation
Australia is not funded sufficiently to be the national coordinator
of reconciliation. The amount of seed funding provided by the government,
for example, is the equivalent of six months of the operational costs
for the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. Reconciliation Australia
is reliant on fundraising activities with the corporate and community
sectors to ensure its viability and effectiveness into the future.
Of the $5.5 million provided by the federal government, Reconciliation
Australia has budgeted $2 million for its operating costs over the
next three years, and has invested and maintained $3 million at a
level consistent with CPI (the remaining $0.5 million of the funding
provided was for payment of GST.)

As a result of
this funding situation, Reconciliation Australia clearly will not
have the capacity that the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation did
to provide ongoing, nationally significant public awareness activities
regarding reconciliation. There is a danger that the reconciliation
walks from last year will be the high watermark of support for reconciliation,
as national attention (necessarily related to the ability of Reconciliation
Australia and the government to keep a national profile for reconciliation)
slowly dissipates.

Ultimately, there
is also a question of national leadership. It is completely correct
for one of Reconciliation Australia’s main agendas to be undertaking
a ‘proactive role to encourage rigorous monitoring of Australian
governments’. However, they have only moral persuasion and good
will to achieve this goal. As discussed, my predecessor had argued
about the implementation process for the Royal Commission, better
results may have been achieved with a more active leadership role
being played by the Commonwealth, including through the use of forms
of leverage to ensure compliance such as performance conditions on
grants to states and territories.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission (CGC)’s Report on Indigenous
funding 2001 indicates how the federal government might exert such
influence on the states, territories and non-government providers.
Currently, approximately two-thirds of total Commonwealth expenditure
on Indigenous housing, infrastructure and education is in the form
of specific purpose payments (SPPs). [31] Additional
influence can be brought to bear on service delivery by the States
through introducing and enforcing additional conditions for both mainstream
and Indigenous-specific SPPs, such as data collection, mandating performance
reporting, Indigenous-specific performance criteria and greater involvement
in decision-making; and seeking extra conditions that target some
of the expenditure of mainstream SPPs to aspects of the services that
are important to Indigenous people.[32]

The CGC Report
also suggests that collaborative State level decision-making arrangements
with Indigenous people could assist improved targeting and accountability
regarding the expenditure of SPPs to meet Indigenous needs and, in
doing so, assist a movement towards outcome-based conditions in SPPs.[33]
These arrangements could facilitate greater Indigenous participation
in decision-making processes, such as identifying need and setting
priorities, at state, regional and local levels; provision of better
sources of data and other information from local and regional levels
for State level decision making; and greater responsibility for service
provision and outcomes: for example, in relation to the expenditure
of SPPs. [34]

Clearly, this
requires governmental commitment and control. Reconciliation Australia
can not fulfil this role.

Reconciliation
Australia also has limited ability to ensure adequate processes of
monitoring and evaluation. They have no formal mandate to require
governments to provide adequate information so that they may be held
accountable and have their programs monitored and evaluated. The Council
for Aboriginal Reconciliation also did not envisage that Reconciliation
Australia would form the main measure for such evaluation. The proposed
Reconciliation Bill contained a complex range of monitoring
and evaluation mechanisms, from a National Reconciliation Convention
every three years to be convened by ATSIC, a three yearly national
progress report of government efforts to be completed by an independent
taskforce, annual reporting by the Social Justice Commissioner and
the establishment of a joint parliamentary committee on reconciliation
which would consult widely about the reconciliation process, as well
as evaluate the national progress reports and annual social justice
commissioner report.

The government
needs to ensure that responsibility for reconciliation is not, in
effect, transferred to Reconciliation Australia. A centralised, coordinated
approach to reconciliation is required at the national governmental
level to ensure that reconciliation continues to grow.

4) Practical
reconciliation

The central response
to reconciliation over the past eighteen months has been the continuation
of the government’s commitment to a ‘practical reconciliation’
approach by addressing ‘key priority’ areas of disadvantage.
As I also noted earlier in the chapter, this approach has continued
independently of, and without reference to or assessment against,
the recommendations of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.

References to
the inadequacy of practical reconciliation have been made throughout
this report and in the Social Justice Report 2000.

In brief, the
problem with this approach is the simplistic, arbitrary and extremely
artificial division it creates between measures which are described
as practical as opposed to symbolic. No such clear distinction exists
– there is a clear inter-relationship between different issues
and approaches which require multi-dimensional solutions. The focus
solely on practical measures to address disadvantage within key priority
areas is simply too narrow. It is also not accompanied with sufficient
accountability for government performance – with inadequate monitoring
and evaluation mechanisms, and a lack of sufficient benchmarks, targets
and an insufficient basis of program delivery on outcomes. Similarly,
it does not provide Indigenous people with a central role in determining
priorities and it dismisses human rights as irrelevant.

Practical
reconciliation’s offer of equality to Indigenous peoples

Practical reconciliation
seeks to address Indigenous people on a restrictive basis of equality.
Ultimately it is assimilationist in approach, aiming for formal equality
with only limited recognition of cultural difference. It seeks to
maintain rather than transform the relationship of Indigenous people
to the mainstream society.

The limited form
of the equality offered by a practical reconciliation approach was
exemplified by the government’s response to the release of the
final report of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation:

And whatever
may be our different perspectives and the different views we might
hold as to how to achieve our goals, I believe it can be said with
total sincerity and total accuracy that there is, within the Australian
community, a great deal of good will towards the indigenous people
of our nation; a determination whatever our political perspectives
may be to honour in a sensitive understanding way the special place
that they will always occupy in the life of this nation and a determination
to bring about those changes in the circumstances of their education,
their health, their employment and their housing opportunities that
will enable this country in the fullness of time to say that in
relation to each of their citizens and to each of the groups that
make up the Australian community that all are receiving a fair go;
that all are sharing in the Australian dream and all are in every
sense of the word fully and equally part of the great Australian
nation.
[35]

Equality as presented
in this statement promotes equal opportunities for participation in
the mainstream ‘Australian dream’ on the basis of sameness.
As I observed last year, ‘[t]he failure to provide us with the
same opportunities as the rest of society in the past means that to
now insist on identical treatment will simply confirm the position
of Indigenous people at the lowest rungs of Australian society’.
[36] A substantive equality approach would necessitate
acknowledgement of the impact of historically-derived disadvantage
on Indigenous peoples, and facilitate measures that are both culturally-appropriate
and responsive to the inequity already experienced by Indigenous people.

Moreover, the
terms of equal participation set out in this statement do not allow
for recognition of the diversity and difference of Indigenous cultures,
societies, values and traditions. The ‘fair go’ being offered
is constrained to an offer to participate in the existing mainstream
system, rather than an offer for that system to adapt or accommodate
Indigenous cultural distinctiveness.

A position which
appreciated the disadvantaged position of Aboriginal people and asserted
their right to maintain their social and racial identity was fundamental
to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody’s original
vision for the reconciliation process. This vision included recognition
of the principle of self-determination:

The process
of reconciliation, if it is to be successful, will, in my opinion,
follow closely the principle of self-determination which, as I have
said in this report, should be the guiding principle for all change
in Aboriginal affairs. The principle provides a safeguard for Aboriginal
people – by ensuring that the diversity of Aboriginal opinion
is recognized – and at the same time imposes a restraint on
Aboriginal leaders which they well appreciate
.[37]

The current offer
of equal participation in the great Australian nation blurs the visions
and perspectives of different citizen groups into one ‘Australian
dream’, obscuring the need for specific recognition of Indigenous
social and racial identity. In doing so, it closes down the dialogue
between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples that was envisaged as
an essential part of the reconciliation process. This dialogue was
to be respectful of cultural difference while promoting co-existence:

… the
non-Aboriginal society and culture is evolving and changing and
the Aboriginal people must be allowed to develop their own culture
in their own ways; clearly there is scope for the two to interact
in a fruitful and mutually fulfilling way… And in the end,
perhaps together, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, the situation can
be reached where this ancient, subtly creative Aboriginal culture
exists in friendship alongside the non-Aboriginal culture. Such
an achievement would be a matter of pride not only for all Australians
but for all humankind
.[38]

As the Social
Justice Report 2000
noted in relation to the response to the Bringing
them home report:

Reconciliation
cannot be imposed on one party by the other. It cannot be achieved
when there is little or no consultation between the parties or when
they adopt a ‘take it or leave it’ approach to the terms
of their reconciliation. Participation on equal terms and the full
agreement of both parties are essential to genuine reconciliation.
[39]

‘Symbolic’
issues

The lack of participation
on equal terms is also evident in the dismissive approach of the government
in refusing to address what it has termed the ‘symbolic’
aspects of reconciliation. The list of symbolic issues that fall outside
the focus of the government on priority areas keeps growing. It includes
issues such as an apology and reparations for those forcibly removed
from their families, a treaty or the facilitation of agreement-making
processes to deal with the unfinished business of reconciliation,
and invariably almost any issue concerning human rights which does
not meet with government approval.

One of the main
concerns with this approach is that it clearly misconceives, or misrepresents,
the purpose of a number of initiatives. Agreement-making processes
and a treaty are not symbolic measures – they are about a fundamental
realignment of the relationship between Indigenous people and the
State. They are about ensuring the effective participation of Indigenous
people in decision making processes in the broadest possible way rather
than within boundaries imposed without negotiation.

In relation to
a treaty, the government’s response has been to express reservations
about the possible divisiveness of a treaty: that it would create
legal uncertainty and result in greater recourse to litigation (by
both Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties). It instead promotes a
focus on ‘those things where we agree on reconciliation’
– namely, the areas of the reconciliation documents and report
in keeping with the Coalition’s longstanding Indigenous policy
focus on practical measures.

This is a ‘take
it or leave it approach’ to reconciliation. The potential divisiveness
of the treaty issue does not necessitate foreclosure of the debate,
especially when it could be addressed constructively through the facilitation
of a mechanism or process for ongoing discussion and negotiation of
this issue.

ATSIC is currently
engaged in facilitating a process for consulting with Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples by holding informal community meetings
across the country. The aim of this process is to provide Indigenous
people with information about the concept of a treaty, including the
various types of treaties, with a view to holding more formal meetings
or conventions that may result in a vote or plebiscite in the future.
ATSIC is not negotiating a treaty; the ATSIC Board ‘has recognised
the need for broad Indigenous support and endorsement before any negotiations
can occur’. [40] ATSIC has also established
a National Treaty Support Group comprised of the ATSIC Chair, five
commissioners and four community representatives to oversee the Board’s
treaty strategy and a national Treaty Think Tank which includes Indigenous
intellectuals and activists, and ‘has the role of stimulating
debate and discussion and networking with regional and State/Territory
think tanks.[41]

Reconciliation
Australia’s strategic plan also supports public education and
informed and objective debate across the community on the issues relating
to a treaty or a framework agreement.[42] Reconciliation
Australia is currently developing a long-term project in partnership
with the Gilbert and Tobin Centre of Public Law in the Faculty of
Law at the University of New South Wales to provide information for
the community to develop well-informed views on the issues involved.

Indigenous-specific expenditure
in the federal budget

Practical reconciliation
is backed up by a significant level of expenditure. The 2001-02 Budget
includes ‘Indigenous-specific spending’ of $2.39 billion
– a record high level. In the Budget, the government announced
‘its commitment to reconciliation and reducing Indigenous disadvantage
through a boost of more than $327 million to spending on Indigenous
affairs’.[43]

Out of an overall
commitment to spend $1.7 billion over four years on the ‘Australians
Working Together’ welfare reform package, $82.8 million was designated
for ‘Promoting self-reliance for Indigenous Australians’.[44]
ATSIC funding, which represents 47 % of total Indigenous-specific
funding in 2001-02, was ‘increased by approximately 5 % since
last financial year’. [45] The budget also
provided, over a four year cycle, an additional $75 million on housing
and infrastructure; $40 million on health; and $54 million on stolen
generations programs and initiatives; $20 million from the Stronger
Families and Communities Strategy for Indigenous community capacity
building; $11 million for Indigenous-specific initiatives under Partnerships
Against Domestic Violence Strategy; and $23 million through the Alcohol
Education and Rehabilitation Foundation for Indigenous community-based
projects to prevent alcohol and other substance abuse.

I welcome this
expenditure and these initiatives. There are however a range of concerns
about this approach.

The first is
the emphasis that the government places on ‘Indigenous-specific
expenditure’. The definition of Indigenous-specific, for example,
is extremely broad and includes everything from funding of the Federal
Court and National Native Title Tribunal to process native title applications,
funding for parties other than Indigenous people to native title matters
(such as pastoralists) and to governments (generally to oppose native
title applications), funding for programs of broad community benefit
such as the National Museum of Australia and reconciliation, and so
forth. In other words, it includes all expenditure that in some way
relates to Indigenous people, regardless of the specificity of the
relationship or the benefit that it provides (some of the funding
identified as Indigenous-specific is clearly detrimental to Indigenous
people’s advancement).[46]

The emphasis
on specific programs also skews debate about Indigenous policy and
reconciliation. As the Social Justice Report 2000 noted, it
is inappropriate to measure government progress in redressing Indigenous
disadvantage in terms of expenditure on specific programs. The focus
should instead be outcomes-based.

Specific or specialist
programs are ‘designed to compensate for the disadvantage and
particular needs of Indigenous people – which stem from where
they live, degree of poverty and particular aspects of their history
or culture’.[47] But while Indigenous-specific
programs are often strategic and targeted, they are not in position
to replicate the level of services and expertise provided by mainstream
programs, such as specialist hospital services.[48]
One of the findings of the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s Report
on Indigenous Funding
was that Indigenous-specific programs are
being asked to do more than they were designed and funded to achieve
because of the failure of mainstream programs to address Indigenous
need effectively.

Accordingly,
in response to the available evidence across all regions that mainstream
services did not meet the needs of Indigenous people to the extent
that they met non-Indigenous people’s needs, the CGC Report identified
equity of access for Indigenous people to mainstream services as the
highest priority for government in reducing Indigenous disadvantage.
It outlines the following three actions as most likely to guarantee
equitable access:

  • Ensuring all
    spheres of government recognise their responsibilities through mainstream
    programs, and the appropriate relationship between mainstream and
    Indigenous-specific programs;
  • Reviewing
    all aspects of mainstream service delivery to ensure that they are
    sensitive to the special needs and requirements of Indigenous people;
    and
  • Involving
    Indigenous people in the design and delivery of mainstream services.
    [49]

Ironically, some
of these matters which are identified as the key to practical outcomes,
are the same matters that lie at the core of processes such as a treaty
– but which are dismissed as symbolic in other contexts.

A further concern
is that expenditure on Indigenous-specific programs and initiatives
announced in the 2001 budget falls short of the projected funding
needs in a number of significant areas. The funding provided for housing
and infrastructure is well below ATSIC’s estimates of current
housing needs – ATSIC Chair Geoff Clark observed on the budget’s
release that $75 million over four years ‘will make little dent
in the $3 billion deficit in this area’.[50]

While the budget
allocates more than $31 million over the next four years to assist
CDEP workers in making the transition to labour market employment,
the level of funding it provides for CDEP operational costs is not
comparable with that for the WFTD scheme. The incremental increases
to the health budget over 2001-2004 was criticised by the National
Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the
Australian Medical Association (AMA), with the AMA Conference calling
for ‘urgent changes in Indigenous health policy, included increasing
funding by at least $245 million a year, minimum benchmarks for service
delivery and an “annual public report card”’.[51]

Of the $86 million
spending on native title, $17.4 million will go to ATSIC to assist
the native title representative bodies and to establish a priority
claims litigation program; the majority of funds will go to the National
Native Title Tribunal and the Federal Court and will support the activities
of those opposing native title claims as well as native title claimants.
While the Federal Government has allocated $11 million funding for
Indigenous-specific family violence projects over a four-year period,
issues remain surrounding the coordination of targeted funding and
resources by a range of federal, state and territory departments and
agencies with responsibilities for this area.

Despite the incremental
increases in funding for Indigenous employment and housing needs,
the failure to take into account the broader context of Indigenous
disadvantage indicates that a more fundamental and far-reaching understanding
of social justice and equity is lacking in Budget 2001’s conception
of a ‘fair deal’. On its release, Budget 2001 received criticism
from Indigenous leaders for being ‘modest in the short term and
disappointing for the long term’, amounting ‘to little more
than a down payment on a future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples that never seems to come’.[52] From
a substantive equality perspective, the supplements to Indigenous-specific
funding in Budget 2001 and the $11 million for reconciliation projects
present fairly slim pickings for Indigenous people, particularly in
the absence of a long-term, nationally-coordinated framework with
effective, negotiated outcomes. We are faced once again with the continuation
of an approach that manages rather than seeks to overcome Indigenous
disadvantage and marginalisation.

5) Domestic
violence and abuse in Indigenous communities

An issue that
came to dominate national debate about Indigenous issues and reconciliation
over the past eighteen months was that of domestic violence and abuse
in Indigenous communities.

The focus on
this issue has been used by the government to reinforce the practical
reconciliation approach. The Minister for Reconciliation and Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, for example, claimed that a long
term benefit of the public debate about these issues was evidence
that the ‘public debate is finally beginning to catch up with
the government’s emphasis on practical assistance’.[53]
The implication of his comments was that a focus on rights did not
have the capacity to ‘make a practical difference to people’s
lives’. [54] This is, however, an overly simplistic
argument which disregards the history of government neglect of this
issue.

Over a decade
ago, the following observations were made about the lack of serious
treatment of violence in Indigenous communities, especially that experienced
by women and children:

In 1988,
amid calls for a royal commission to investigate black deaths in
prison cells and police watch houses, Aboriginal women argued that
it was also important to consider the level of violent deaths of
our people outside of these places. At that time we were concerned
that while death in a watch-house received frenzied media attention,
a suicide on the same day, in the same community, was viewed with
no concern at all by the authorities. It was considered to be common
place. More importantly, levels of violence towards women and children
seem to be rising. A number of rapes of young girls cemented our
concern that these were an expression of distress of people living
in situations that Paul Wilson has described as ‘violence provoking’.
[55]

An awareness
of the prevalence of violence in Indigenous peoples’ lives, particularly
those of women and children, is not new and has been the subject of
a series of reports. It has been, for example, a major policy focus
of both ATSIC and the Office for the Status of Women for a number
of years. In light of this, the history of a lack of adequate levels
of response from government and other sectors of the community is
profoundly disturbing.

Current approaches
to address domestic violence and abuse in Indigenous communities

The main avenue
for the Commonwealth’s response to family violence issues has
been its Partnerships Against Domestic Violence (PADV) scheme, which
was launched in 1997 at the National Domestic Violence Summit. [56]
The Federal Government allocated $50 million over a four-year period
(1999-2003) for PADV, which works with state and territory governments
and the community to prevent domestic and family violence and includes
$6 million for the Indigenous Family Violence Grants Programme.

Last year, 30
Indigenous organisations from across Australia received funding of
$2.2 million for 31 projects addressing family violence. Three of
these were funded through ATSIC, others through Commonwealth agencies,
especially the Department of Family and Community Services. In addition,
another $5 million was spent under PADV on Indigenous initiatives
for preventing and responding to family violence.

The National
Domestic Violence Summit also recommended that COAG establish a National
Task Force which would be supported by the Office for the Status of
Women and report annually through the Commonwealth/State Ministers’
Conference on the Status of Women to Heads of Government. In August
1999 MCATSIA endorsed a National Strategy on Indigenous Family Violence.
Its Working Group on Family Violence established a set of principles
for funding community-based organisations addressing family violence,
which have been incorporated into the design of the National Indigenous
Family Violence Grants Programme.[57]

As the peak advisory
body for Indigenous affairs, ATSIC provides another major avenue for
Commonwealth funding of Indigenous family violence programs and policy
advice in this area. ATSIC currently spends approximately $4.5 million
a year on a range of initiatives, including 12 family violence projects.
These are located in rural and remote areas, and provide advice, counselling
and support to women and children affected by violence. The projects
also have a preventative focus, mainly through community education.
ATSIC is also working on a national family policy in association with
the Secretariat National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care.

During the media
debate this year concerning Indigenous family violence, assertions
were made, directly and indirectly, that ATSIC was wholly responsible
for setting funding priorities for family violence strategies, and
that it has failed to make Indigenous family violence a high priority
on the national agenda as a consequence of a focus on rights at the
expense of practical measures.

However, service
delivery to Indigenous Australians is a shared responsibility between
all levels of government: primary responsibility for issues of family
violence rests with health and community service agencies in Federal,
State and Territory governments. In addition, currently about 70 per
cent of ATSIC’s budget is quarantined by the Government for CDEP
and housing and infrastructure, with the remaining discretionary funds
to be spread across a wide range of social, cultural and economic
programs, including family violence.

In 1991 ATSIC
established a family violence intervention program in response to
the National Committee on Violence report, Violence: Directions
for Australia
, which was funded through the Community and Youth
Support Scheme. However, this program was terminated when the Community
and Youth Support Scheme was abolished as a result of funding cuts
of $470 million over 4 years to ATSIC’s budget introduced by
the Coalition in 1996. ATSIC has since received $1.3 million in the
first PADV funding round to support two projects. When the government
increased PADV funding by $25 million in 1999, ATSIC expressed its
support for the then Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Affairs to secure as much as possible of the available funds. However,
ATSIC did not receive any increase to its funds for addressing family
violence issues.

ATSIC’s
elected arm in Queensland also endorsed the Indigenous Women’s
Task Force on Violence Report
in February 2000 and called on state
and Federal Governments to match funds allocated already by Regional
Councils, ‘at the very least’. [58] Recently,
ATSIC intervened to secure the continued operation of Apunipima Family
Violence Advocacy Service on Cape York with an injection of funding
until at least the end of the next financial year. This project was
set up three years ago through stage one of the PADV program with
part of the $1.3 million Indigenous-specific funds which expired on
30 June 2001. As ATSIC Commissioner Pryor pointed out, ‘This
is the old story with pilot projects – what happens when the
funding runs out?’ [59]

In addition to
existing funds for this area, ATSIC’s Board has agreed to allocate
$200,000 to fund a National Indigenous Working Group process, including
a series of roundtable meetings, to address family violence. The Board
also endorsed a leadership role for ATSIC in the National Strategy
on Indigenous Family Violence ‘by pursuing full membership status
on relevant Federal and State task forces, working groups and committees
established to combat family violence and sexual assault’, and
emphasised the need for increased government funding to combat family
violence, to expand the number of services and to increase funding
to existing services. A subsequent Indigenous Women’s Roundtable
meeting ‘endorsed a holistic approach, a national framework for
changing the intergovernmental arrangements for dealing with violence,
and linking ATSIC’s Family Policy and Violence Strategy with
the roundtable process’.[60]

Further outcomes
from roundtable meetings include agreement: to establish a combined
men and women’s National Indigenous Family Violence Working Group;
to seek government funding to support ATSIC’s family policy;
and to establish a National Family Violence Secretariat.[61]

ATSIC’s
National Indigenous Women’s Forum and Roundtable process, and
its emphasis on direct community involvement and collaboration with
government to find solutions for family violence issues have been
commended by relevant government ministers. [62]
Calls have also been made by ATSIC, Reconciliation Australia and the
federal Minister and Parliamentary Secretary for Reconciliation and
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs for re-assessment of
national coordination of this issue.

On 28 July 2000
MCATSIA was addressed for the first time by an Indigenous delegation,
which consisted of representatives from the ATSIC Indigenous Women’s
Roundtable, who called for ‘a holistic and strategic long term
response to family violence to empower Indigenous women, men and children
to deal with the complex issues involved rather than a quick fix approach
based on the current proliferation of Government funded pilot schemes’.
[63] MCATSIA agreed to an audit of existing Indigenous
family violence strategies, and to a seven-point strategy comprised
of reducing alcohol and substance abuse; child safety and well-being;
building community capacity (including cultural strength); improving
the justice system; creating safe places in communities; improving
relationships (focusing on perpetrators and those at risk of offending);
and promoting shared leadership.

The Council also
endorsed ATSIC’s establishment of a National Indigenous Women’s
Forum to provide a national voice for Indigenous people on violence
by communicating with local Indigenous networks on culturally-appropriate
initiatives, as well as the facilitation of Indigenous women and men’s
roundtables on the issue, which are to report back to MCATSIA. However,
in addition to the Federal Minister for Reconciliation and Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and his Parliamentary Secretary,
the meeting was only attended by three State ministers (from Western
Australia, Queensland and Victoria) and Deputy ATSIC Chair. [64]
ATSIC noted its disappointment at the non-attendance of so many
state and territory ministers and at the lack of any proposals for
new targeted funding or resources. [65] A press
release issued by the Federal Minister recorded that: ‘the question
of providing additional funding was raised at the meeting, and I indicated
that I was prepared to pursue this at the Commonwealth level but unfortunately
state ministers were not prepared to do the same’. [66]

On 6 August 2000
Reconciliation Australia repeated their 26 June call for a concerted
national approach to Indigenous family violence, saying that they
‘feared Australia would fail the “reconciliation test”
on domestic violence in Indigenous communities unless Heads of Government
ensured a concerted and comprehensive national effort on the issue’.
[67] They criticised the outcomes of the MCATSIA
meeting since they ‘did not demonstrate that a coherent national
strategy is being progressed in tangible ways’ and questioned
MCATSIA’s authority to instigate change in this area, given that
many departments and agencies responsible for the issue are not under
the control of MCATSIA.

They also called
for the issue to be dealt with through COAG, because ‘many departments
and agencies at Federal, State and Territory levels are relevant to
this issue, and they are not under the control of Ministers for Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Affairs’. [68] Their
26 June media release had noted COAG’s commitment to addressing
family violence as part of its review of service delivery arrangements,
and announced Reconciliation Australia’s readiness to work in
partnership with all relevant parties ‘to achieve the most appropriate
and adequately-resourced national response to these pressing issues
and to monitor progress’ [69]

While calls for
a nationally-coordinated response to Indigenous family violence have
received some support, such as MCATSIA’s commitment to a 7-point
action plan, there is clearly a need for further commitments to be
made to drive a whole-of-government approach across all relevant Commonwealth,
state and territory agencies and departments, including appropriate
responses to requests for additional funding and services. As ATSIC’s
Annual Report 2000-2001 observes:

The feeble
national response to this family violence strategy provides yet
more evidence of the defects of Australia’s federal system
in relation to Indigenous Australians. As numerous recent UN reports
have pointed out, the Commonwealth is accountable for the commitments
Australia has made under various international human rights instruments.
This accountability extends to the record of the States and Territorie
s
[70]…

Reconciliation
Australia has stressed that the recent focus on Indigenous family
violence provides COAG with an opportunity to make good its November
2000 commitment to evaluating measures for tackling family violence
and other symptoms of community dysfunction. As part of its national
leadership and coordination role, COAG should link the achievement
of effective outcomes in this areas to a long-term investment in building
Indigenous capacity that is responsive to the rights of Indigenous
peoples to family and culture, including the role which women play
in sustaining families and communities and the future part of younger
people in community participation and leadership. Similar commitments
should also be made across other sectors of the community.

The need for
an holistic rights-based approach to Indigenous family violence

Indigenous representatives
have articulated a number of common elements for achieving effective
outcomes in response to family violence issues. These include the
need for national coordination of a holistic and strategic long-term
strategy rather than quick-fix, short-term solutions, and to ground
policy on Indigenous family violence in self-determination and cultural
rights.

This stands in
contrast to the Federal Government’s claim that the renewed focus
on family violence has led to a ‘turning point’ for Indigenous
people in which they have recognised the need to eschew a rights-agenda
and accept a practical reconciliation approach.

The government’s
current provision of practical assistance through measures such as
the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Substance Misuse Strategy,
the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, and the Alcohol Education
and Rehabilitation Foundation in addition to PADV funding seeks to
target specific areas such as chronic levels of substance and alcohol
abuse which often relate to high levels of violence. This represents
a piecemeal rather than a consolidated effort to address the symptoms
of the loss of individual, family and community cohesion and well-being.
One of the dangers present in isolating and targeting issues such
as alcohol or substance abuse, or family violence is the perpetuation
of a crisis-funding approach that focuses on short-term gains but
fails to set in place long-term, integrated strategies that will bring
about genuine change, as demonstrated by the near-collapse of the
Apunipima Family Violence Advocacy Service.

In part this
is a reflex of the short-term funding arrangements that characterise
Indigenous affairs, and in ATSIC’s case the imposition of accountability
requirements that limit the time-frame for successful implementation
of strategies and the discretion to determine available levels of
funding for different programs. Longer time-frames for funding projects
and the discretion to determine funding levels would provide greater
opportunity to implement projects that could target the long-term
effects of issues such family violence.

In their media
responses to Indigenous family violence, both ATSIC and the Federal
Government mention the expenditure across a broad range of Indigenous
programs such as health, housing and employment as a significant,
if indirect, contribution to redressing the underlying causes of family
and community dysfunction. [71] However, as discussed
above, a more far-reaching, nationally-coordinated response that seeks
to identify gaps in existing funding and services is needed. It is
simply not enough to tout an injection of funds into a handful of
strategies as signs of an effective and practical approach to serious
issues which are the product of long-term dispossession and community
disintegration and which will take a long time to reverse.

This response
needs to go beyond the identification of best practice examples recommended
as part of the national audit of Indigenous family violence strategies
to the identification of outcomes that will empower Indigenous people
and support their aspirations. Far from establishing the irrelevance
of so-called symbolic measures and the need for an emphasis on individual
self-reliance, the renewed focus on family violence issues has highlighted
the need for recognition of Indigenous cultural values and traditions.

ATSIC’s
Indigenous Women’s Roundtable meeting endorsed a rights-based
family policy to drive its national strategy for addressing family
violence. This policy upholds the distinct cultural characteristics
of Indigenous families in accordance with the right to self-determination;
the importance of traditional authority structures and the role each
family plays within community; and the need to redress those issues
with a detrimental effect on families, communities and cultures through
strategies related to women, men, children, youth, elders and people
with a disability. [72] The policy also notes the
powerful role that could be played by a symbolic measure such as a
formal apology,

… which
acknowledges that past governments violated our inherent right to
express and enjoy our right to family. Recognition in this way will
enable us to reconnect, rebuild and restore our traditional family
unit as the primary source for nurturing and protecting us in our
cultural heritage and general wellbeing.
[73]

The renewed emphasis
of governments on violence and abuse in Indigenous communities is
long overdue and welcomed. The use of this issue to reinforce the
practical reconciliation approach is not. It operates to foreclose
debate about significant issues of reconciliation.

6) Human
rights and reconciliation

No aspects of
the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation’s proposals on Indigenous
rights have been implemented by the government.

Chapter
2
of this report was critical of the way that the government has
adopted, and misrepresented, Noel Pearson’s arguments about reciprocity
and responsibility to justify this approach. In particular, the government
incorrectly take concerns expressed by Noel Pearson about rights to
justify a position where rights are not respected.

There is a distinction
to be made between two types of rights of application to Indigenous
people. [74] There are those rights that every Australian
is entitled, including Indigenous people, commonly referred to as
citizenship rights; and those that recognise and protect Indigenous
culture and which are inherent to Indigenous people.
As I state in my Native Title Report 2001:

This important
distinction has not been made in the government’s recent and
generalised attack upon a rights approach as inadequate to deal
with, if not causally related to, the high levels of violence perpetrated
by Indigenous people against their own families and communities.

The government
has condemned the rights approach as symbolic only, one which doesn’t
produce practical results. [75] Symbolic rights
are distinguished from practical outcomes. Practical outcomes result
from dealing with Indigenous issues on an individualistic basis.

It appears from
a close analysis of the arguments opposing a rights approach to Indigenous
issues that it fails to distinguish between the two types of rights
relevant to Indigenous peoples; citizenship rights and inherent rights.
What are actually being attacked as the cause of the horrendous and
irresponsible violence in some Indigenous communities are the rights
that came with citizenship. That is, the right of Aboriginals to be
treated the same as non-Aboriginals, without being discriminated against
on the basis of their race. The right to leave a mission or reserve
without first seeking permission. The right to vote. The right to
enter a pub and buy alcohol. The right to unemployment benefits when
out of work. The right to enter a de facto relationship. The right
to formal equality.

Yet of those
attacking the rights approach as producing no improvement in Aboriginal
lives, no one has suggested that the solution is to take these rights
away and force Aboriginal people back to the mission or the reserve
under the supervision of the Crown, the police or the church. To do
so would strike at the very core of Australian society as well as
marginalise Aboriginal communities and their problems even more than
is presently the case. These rights do not need to be abandoned, they
need to be augmented. The real problem with citizenship rights…
is that they are not capable of transforming the poverty and destitution
that marks so many Aboriginal people’s lives. They were not intended
for this purpose.

Formal equality
on its own is not enough. As a tool of social change it is inadequate
and, indeed, entrenches the inequality that already exists. To that
extent I agree with the critics of a rights approach to Indigenous
disadvantage and poverty. What I don’t agree with is their conclusion
that, as an approach to social policy, rights are incapable of addressing
these Indigenous issues.

The problem is
not that Aboriginal people were given equal rights and treated like
everyone else. The problem is that these are the only rights that
Aboriginal people were given. This type of equality, formal equality,
is not enough to restore Aboriginal people to their rightful place
as the first peoples of this country. We need to go further with rights.
We need to adopt a rights approach that does have the capacity to
transform social, economic and political relations in Australia. I
have, in my previous annual reports advocated two types of measures,
based on rights, which have this capacity. First, measures known as
special measures, aimed at achieving equality, rather than assuming
it; and second, the full recognition of Indigenous people’s inherent
rights, in particular native title.

A combined approach,
utilising these two types of rights, has not been adopted by any government
as a way of addressing the disadvantage it is designed to transform.
When an opportunity did arise to recognise inherent rights through
native title it was immediately encased in a legal armature that gave
it no room to deliver real outcomes. Its capacity to provide economic
opportunities for Indigenous people, to provide equal respect for
Indigenous culture, to provide governance structures for Aboriginal
communities has been severely limited through the NTA and the common
law. The proposal to implement special measures to overcome the destructive
cultural, social and economic impact of dispossession with the full
participation and consent of Indigenous people through the Social
Justice Package
was never pursued by any government.

The call to abandon
rights assumes that they have been tried and failed. That is incorrect.
Indigenous rights, ones that recognise Aboriginal people for what
they are, and have the capacity to change their dire living circumstances,
have never been embraced as a way forward. What is required is that
Aboriginal people be given the full enjoyment of their inherent rights
through native title and that Indigenous disadvantage be addressed
with the full participation of those affected. [76]

Recommendations
on reconciliation

There is an urgent
need for the federal government to commit, in meaningful terms, to
the recommendations of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
This is not the same as generalised statements of commitment to reconciliation
– such statements are cheap and do not hold government’s
accountable.

Due to concerns
about the lack of response to the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation’s
documents of reconciliation and final report, as well as the inadequate
response to the Social Justice Report 2000, I have chosen to
make the following recommendations in accordance with s46C(1)(a) of
the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986.
The first relates to the urgent need for a national response and plan
of action to sustain reconciliation into the future. The second reflects
provisions of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation’s Reconciliation
Bill
which relate to monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for
the Social Justice Report. [77]

Recommendations
on reconciliation

Recommendation
11:
The Senate empower the Legal and Constitutional References
Committee to conduct an inquiry into the implementation and response
to the reconciliation process. The terms of reference of the inquiry
should require the Committee to examine the recommendations contained
within the Roadmap to Reconciliation, the final report of the
Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and the Social Justice Report
2000
as well as the adequacy of the response of the Federal Government
to each of these. In determining the adequacy of the response, the
Committee should be required to consider processes by which government
agencies have reviewed their policies and programs against the documents
of reconciliation; as well as the adequacy of targets and benchmarks
adopted and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

Recommendation
12:
At the time of tabling of the annual Social Justice Report
in Parliament, or within 15 sitting days, the Government furnish a
response to the report and its recommendations in Parliament. In the
event that the Government does not furnish such a response in Parliament,
the Senate consider the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry to
consider matters that appear in or arise out of the report and its
recommendations, and matters to which the Committee believes Parliament’s
attention should be directed.

Conclusion
– Stopping the unstoppable?

This chapter
has raised a number of significant concerns about the approach of
the federal government to reconciliation in the eighteen months since
the release of the documents of reconciliation, and in the twelve
months since the end of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
As the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation noted:

[T]rue and
lasting reconciliation is not a foregone conclusion. Reconciliation
is hard work – it’s a long, winding and corrugated road,
not a broad, paved highway. Determination and effort at all levels
of government and in all sections of the community will be essential
to make reconciliation a reality.
[78]

True and meaningful
reconciliation is being prevented as long as the only attempt being
made to accommodate Indigenous peoples within the fabric of Australian
society is on the basis of sameness, without recognition of cultural
distinctions. The lack of leadership demonstrated by the federal government
leaves reconciliation without focus and without cohesion. As important
as the people’s movement for reconciliation is, it will surely
dissipate if not accompanied by real commitments to real outcomes
by governments.

In concluding
this chapter and this report, I return to the Royal Commission into
Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Royal Commission laid out the essential
parameters of reconciliation, so that it would be meaningful in addressing
the situation of Indigenous involvement in criminal justice processes.
The national report emphasised that joint recognition of Indigenous
peoples’ right to self-determination and the need to redress
Indigenous disadvantage were intrinsic to the success of the reconciliation
process. Commissioner Johnstone wrote:

If it is
recognized that the cause of distrust and disunity is the historical
experience of Aboriginal people and their continuing disadvantage,
then, plainly, good community relations cannot be achieved without
the elimination of the disadvantage and the recognition of Aboriginal
rights, Aboriginal culture and traditions. There must be a complete
rejection of concepts of superiority and inferiority…

I believe
that it can be demonstrated that where, over the last twenty-five
years, there has been an improvement in community relations it is
invariably associated with a genuine effort to reduce disadvantage
and to do so by dealing with Aboriginal people in a way which respects
their position. Furthermore, if the broader society does give tangible
and on-going proof of such efforts in a way which recognizes the
principle of self-determination it can, I think, be said with much
confidence that there will be substantial improvements in relations
between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.
[79]

Recent years
have seen the emphasis of the reconciliation process shift dramatically.
Currently, it is not about mutual accommodation on the basis of equality
– it is about whether one group, Indigenous people, are prepared
to conform to the rest of society. If not, then the offer is closed.


1
Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Australia’s Challenge,
CAR, Canberra 2000.

2 Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social
Justice Report 2000
, HREOC, Sydney, 2000, pp130-132, Recommendations
1-14.

3 Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Indigenous
deaths in custody 1989-1996: A report prepared for the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Commission
, Office of Public Affairs,
ATSIC, Woden, ACT, October 1996.

4
ibid, p257.

5 ibid,
p267.

6 ibid,
p258.

7
See the overview of state and territory developments in Appendix Two
of this report.

8
Reconciliation Australia, ‘The reconciliation report card and
the reconciliation test’, Media release, 28 November 2001.

9 Howard,
the Hon J, ‘Address at the presentation of the Final Report to
Federal Parliament by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation’,
Transcript, 7 December 2000, p1.

10
Prime Minister, ‘Reconciliation documents’, Media release,
11 May 2000.

11 ibid.

12
ibid.

13 Howard,
the Hon J, ‘Address at the presentation of the Final Report to
Federal Parliament by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation’,
op.cit, p2.

14
Howard, The Hon J, Aboriginals; Reconciliation, Question on
notice, Hansard – House of Representatives, 7 December 2000,
p23651.

15 Howard,
The Hon J, ‘Perspectives on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
issues’, Menzies Series Lecture, 13 December 2000, pp3-4.

16 Howard,
The Hon J, Aboriginals; Reconciliation, op.cit.

17 Attorney-General,
Letter to Commissioner Jonas, 29 March 2001.

18 Attorney-General
and Minister for Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Affairs, ‘Social Justice and Native Title Reports’, Joint
News Release, 28 March 2001.

19
ibid.

20 Section
46C(1), Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986
(Cth).

21 Prime
Minister, ‘Council of Australian Governments communiqué’,
Press Release, 3 November 2000; For updated information see: Prime
Minister, ‘Council of Australia Government’s meeting Canberra
communiqué’, Press Release, 8 June 2001.

22
Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, ‘Council welcomes COAG
agreement on reconciliation and calls for actions to back up the words’,
Media release, 3 November 2000.

23 This
was noted by the government in responding to my report: Attorney-General
and Minister for Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Affairs, Social Justice and Native Title Reports, Joint media
release, 28 March 2001.

24 See
further: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,
Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee
inquiry into the stolen generation
, HREOC Sydney 2000, http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/senate_submission/index.html

25
See further: Reconciliation Australia, Strategic Plan 2001-2003,
Reconciliation Australia, Canberra 2001.

26
Prime Minister, ‘Reconciliation square in Canberra’, Press
Release, 22 May 2000.

27 ibid.

28 Reconciliation
Australia, ‘The reconciliation report card and the reconciliation
test’, op.cit, p2.

29 ‘Memorial
may deepen the divide’, The Canberra Times, 1 December
2001, p7.

30 Howard,
the Hon J, ‘Address at the presentation of the Final Report to
Federal Parliament by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation’,
op.cit. p2.

31 Commonwealth
Grants Commission, Report on Indigenous Funding 2001, Commonwealth
of Australia, Canberra, 2001, p65.

32
ibid, pxx.

33
ibid, p100. SPPs will become a smaller proportion of Commonwealth
funding for states with the increase to general revenue grants under
GST arrangements, which could provide an opportunity for re-assessment
of SPP funding and identification of gaps in service delivery, or
the creation of outcomes in new areas such as community capacity building.

34 ibid,
pp98-9.

35 See
Howard, the Hon J, ‘Address at the presentation of the Final
Report to Federal Parliament by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation’,
op.cit, pp2-3.

36
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,
Social Justice Report 2000, op.cit, p19.

37
Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, National Report
– Volume 5,
AGPS Canberra 1991, paras 38.3, 38.26.

38
ibid, para 38.32.

39 Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social
Justice Report 2000, op.cit
, p139.

40
ATSIC, ATSIC Annual Report 2001-2001, National Media and Marketing
Office, ATSIC, Woden, ACT, 2001, p36. See also: www.treatynow.org.

41
ibid.

42 Reconciliation
Australia, op.cit, para 3.3.

43
Minister for Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Affairs, ‘Budget promotes self reliance for Indigenous Australians’,
Media release, 22 May 2001, p1.

44 Minister
for Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs,
‘A fair deal for Indigenous Australians’, Australians
working together – Helping people to move forward, Fact Sheet
2
, pp1-2.

45 ATSIC,
‘Fact Sheet: Summary of new ATSIC Specific Funding and Allocations’,
ATSIC Budget Response, 22 May 2001, p1.

46 See
further: Jopson, D, ‘Money that’s black and white and spent
all over’, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 March 2001, p12.

47 Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social
Justice Report 2000, op.cit
, p92.

48 Commonwealth
Grants Commission, Report on Indigenous Funding 2001, op.cit,
p91.

49
ibid
, p92.

50
ATSIC, ‘A reconciliation budget?’, ATSIC News (Autumn
2001), p3.

51 ibid.

52
ATSIC (Chairman), ATSIC - Budget Response, 2001 Budget: A mixed
bag
, Media release, 22 May 2001.

53 Ruddock,
the Hon P, ‘Aborigines reach a turning point: the public is coming
round to practical reconciliation based on individual responsibility’,
Age, 23 July 2001, p15.

54
ibid.

55 Atkinson,
J, ‘Violence against Aboriginal women: Reconstitution of community
law – the way forward’ (1990) 2(46) Aboriginal Law Bulletin,
reprinted in (August-September 2001), 5 (11) Indigenous Law Bulletin,
p19.

56
For example: ‘It is not as if the recent reporting of domestic
violence in indigenous communities is a complete revelation. The issue
has been around for years, and the Federal Government has been doing
a lot of work in this area. Unfortunately, many have chosen to ignore
this.’ Ruddock, the Hon P, ‘Aborigines reach a turning point’,
op.cit.

57 See
Commonwealth of Australia, Working together against violence: The
first three years of partnerships against domestic violence
, Office
of the Status of Women, Canberra, August 2001, p57.

58
Pryor, J, ‘Whose cover up?’, ATSIC News (Spring 2001),
p16. For example, Goolburri Regional Council allocated $200,000 for
domestic violence and trauma counselling across southern Queensland
but has had no response from state and Federal Governments. See Button,
B, ‘Family violence not such a priority for governments’,
ATSIC media release, 2 July 2001.

59 ibid.

60
ATSIC, ‘Indigenous Women’s Roundtable achieves results’,
Media release, 13 September 2001, p1.

61 ATSIC,
‘Indigenous roundtable seeks partnership’, Media release,
30 October 2001.

62 Parliamentary
Secretary on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, ‘Indigenous
Women’s Roundtable a crucial step forward’, Media release,
13 September 2001; Minister for Reconciliation and Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary on Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, ‘Agreement on Indigenous
family violence welcomed’, Media release, 28 July 2000, p1; Minister
for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for
Family and Community Services, ‘$2.2 million for indigenous communities
to design solutions to family violence’, Joint media release,
14 August 2000, p2.

63 ATSIC
(Commissioner Anderson and Deputy Chair Robinson), ‘Action on
family violence’, Media release, 29 July 2001, p1.

64 NSW
Minister Refshauge refused to attend on the basis that the Federal
Minister for Family and Community Services wouldn’t be there:
‘Time and again we have had Aboriginal affairs ministers’
meetings noting things, but nothing happened because no Federal line
agency is represented’: ATSIC, ‘No more silence’, ATSIC
News
, Spring 2001, p14.

65 ATSIC
(Commissioner Anderson and Deputy Chair Robinson), Action on family
violence,
Media release, 29 July 2001, p2.

66
Minister for Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary on Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Affairs, ‘Agreement on Indigenous family violence welcomed’,
op.cit, p2.

67
Reconciliation Australia, ‘Heads of Government should ensure
concerted national action on domestic violence in Indigenous communities
– Co-Chairs’, Media release, 6 August 2001.

68
ibid.

69 Reconciliation
Australia, ‘The reconciliation test: will current debate lead
to a concerted effort to address family violence in Indigenous communities?’,
Media release, 26 June 2001, p2.

70
ATSIC, Annual Report 2000-2001, op.cit, p45.

71
Minister for Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary on Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Affairs, ‘Agreement on Indigenous family violence welcomed’,
op.cit, p2.

72 ATSIC
(Chair), ‘National Indigenous group on domestic violence’,
Media release, 22 August 2001.

73 ATSIC,
‘Our rights: our lives: our way’, op.cit, p10.

74
See further: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Commissioner, Social Justice Report 1999, HREOC Sydney 1999,
Chapter 3 – Identity rights.

75 Ruddock,
The Hon P, ‘Aborigines reach a turning point’, The Age,
23 July 2001.

76 Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Native
Title Report 2001
, HREOC Sydney 2001, Chapter 1.

77 See
further, Draft Reconciliation Bill 2000, section 15(c) in Council
for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Australia’s Challenge,
CAR Canberra 2000, p173.

78 Council
for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Australia’s Challenge,
CAR Canberra 2000, p101.

79 Royal
Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, National Report –
Volume 5,
AGPS Canberra 1991, para 38.3.