Reconciliation Walk the Bridges

This National Reconciliation Week we reflect on two significant anniversaries in Australia’s reconciliation journey – 50 years since the 1967 referendum and 25 years since Mabo.

On Friday 26 May I was pleased to stand alongside members of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to mark the beginning of Reconciliation week, and to celebrate and recognise the rich cultural history that makes Australia unique.

Yes, it’s true, we have come a long way since the 1967 referendum and Mabo, but there is still a long way to go before we truly reduce the gaps of disadvantage and achieve equity of opportunities for members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

I am disappointed to announce that the ACT in particular is still a long way from reaching targets to reducing the gap. It is an unfortunate fact that our ACT government has become indifferent to efforts to reducing the gap. They pay nothing more than degrading lip service, which rarely results in any form of positive outcomes for the community. During a week that we celebrate reconciliation in our country, the ACT Government decided to turn its back on the Indigenous community. By abandoning plans to provide a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation service in the ACT, the Government has chosen to ignore critical elements in resolving indigenous social issues in the ACT, including the continuing high incarceration rates, issues with child protection, and the lack of equal education outcomes, highlighted by the ongoing inequality in NAPLAN outcomes. Any government that claims to be committed to reducing the gap would never consider abandoning these crucial services.

Once again, the ACT Government has proven that it is all promise, but under delivers when it comes to supporting the indigenous community. As we reflect on the anniversaries of these significant events in the reconciliation, I call on the government to begin to make it real and deliver on its promises to the indigenous community