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Reconciliation Bill 2001 [2004]

1998-1999-2000-2001

 

The Parliament of the

Commonwealth of Australia

 

THE SENATE

 

 

 

 

Presented and read a first time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reconciliation Bill 2001

 

No.      , 2001

 

(Senator Ridgeway)

 

 

 

A Bill for an Act to further advance reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and all other Australians, by establishing processes to identify, monitor, negotiate and resolve unresolved issues for reconciliation, and for related purposes

   

   

   



Contents

Part 1—Preliminary                                                                                                              3

1............ Short title............................................................................................. 3

2............ Commencement................................................................................... 3

3............ Interpretation....................................................................................... 3

4............ Objects................................................................................................ 4

Part 2—Recognition of the unique status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples       6

5............ The Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation .......................... 6

Part 3—A process to identify and resolve issues for reconciliation          7

6............ A National Reconciliation Convention................................................ 7

7............ The functions of a National Reconciliation Convention...................... 8

Part 4—A negotiation and agreement process to resolve issues for reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Government                      9

8............ A negotiation process to facilitate resolution of reconciliation matters 9

9............ Protocols............................................................................................. 9

Part 5—A process for reporting on reconciliation                                            11

Division 1—Reports                                                                                                     11

10.......... Reports by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner 11

11.......... Three-Yearly Report on the Progress Toward Reconciliation........... 11

12.......... Tabling of the National Report on the Progress Toward Reconciliation 12

Division 2—Monitoring the progress toward reconciliation                  13

13.......... Parliamentary Joint Committee on Reconciliation............................. 13

14.......... Powers and proceedings of Committee............................................. 13

15.......... Duties of Committee......................................................................... 14

Schedule 1—The Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation                 16

 



A Bill for an Act to further advance reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and all other Australians, by establishing processes to identify, monitor, negotiate and resolve unresolved issues for reconciliation, and for related purposes

Preamble

                   Because:

                     (a)  Australia has been occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from time immemorial, before the assertion of British sovereignty; and

                     (b)  many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples suffered dispossession and dispersal from their traditional lands and waters by the Crown without compensation and without lasting and equitable agreement on the use of those lands and waters; and

                     (c)  many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples suffered separation from their families under government policies now discredited; and

                     (d)  as a consequence of these and subsequent deprivations, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have become, as a group, the most disadvantaged in Australian society; and

                     (e)  there has been no formal process of negotiation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Government to achieve reconciliation; and

                      (f)  it is desirable and beneficial for all Australians that there be such reconciliation; and

                     (g)  the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, through consultation with the people of Australia, developed the Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation and the National Strategies to advance reconciliation and recommended in its final report that there be legislation to continue the reconciliation process and realise the principles and goals set out in those documents; and

                     (h)  reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and all other Australians is an ongoing process that requires all matters identified as unresolved issues for reconciliation to be addressed; and

                      (i)  reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and all other Australians can be achieved with the development of partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider community to ensure the full recognition and respect for the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the life of the nation; and

                      (j)  reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and all other Australians can be achieved with solutions that are developed cooperatively and implemented in conjunction with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the wider Australian community, and all levels of government; and

                     (k)  it is the intention of the people of Australia to further the progress toward reconciliation and rectify the consequences of past injustices to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples receive the full recognition and status within the Australian nation to which history, their prior occupation and their rich and diverse culture fully entitle them to aspire; and

                      (l)  it is the wish of the Australian people that reconciliation be achieved through a real and lasting settlement reached with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Parliament of Australia therefore enacts:



Schedule 1 —The Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation

   

Note:       See section 5.

We, the peoples of Australia, of many origins as we are, make a commitment to go on together in a spirit of reconciliation.

We value the unique status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the original owners and custodians of lands and waters.

We recognise this land and its waters were settled as colonies without treaty or consent.

Reaffirming the human rights of all Australians, we respect and recognise continuing customary laws, beliefs and traditions.

Through understanding the spiritual relationship between the land and its first peoples, we share our future and live in harmony.

Our nation must have the courage to own the truth, to heal the wounds of its past so that we can move on together at peace with ourselves.

Reconciliation must live in the hearts and minds of all Australians. Many steps have been taken, many steps remain as we learn our shared histories.

As we walk the journey of healing, one part of the nation apologises and expresses its sorrow and sincere regret for the injustices of the past, so the other part accepts the apologies and forgives.

We desire a future where all Australians enjoy their rights, accept their responsibilities, and have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

And so, we pledge ourselves to stop injustice, overcome disadvantage, and respect that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the right to self-determination within the life of the nation.

Our hope is for a united Australia that respects this land of ours; values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage; and provides justice and equity for all.