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UNCC100: Our World, Our Community

Maddelyn Holland - Tam


Simon Coghlan
S00155936
Reconciliation for a Common Good.

Since the British claimed ownership of Australia with the enunciation of the doctrine of terra
nullius a long history of inequality, racism and segregation between Indigenous Australians
and their white counterparts began. (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade [DFAT],
2008). The Colonial Governments policy of Aboriginal Assimilation, led to the
Indigenous Australian community being marginalized from all forms of society including the
British regime. In this environment of segregation, the Aboriginal Protection Board
endeavored to isolate Indigenous Australians by pushing them into missionaries and forcibly
removing their children in order to re educate their alleged barbaric ways (Eckermann,
1998). The survival spirit of numerous Indigenous Australians however, saw them fight for
their rights, and things such as protests, contributed to Non- Indigenous Australians slowly
recognizing the centuries of injustice and strengthening their resolve to right these. With this
came reconciliation, a process constructed by the Australian society in atoning for past errors
by promoting diversity and cultural awareness (Reconciliation Australia [RA], 2013). This
reconciliation process aimed to assist the Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders in
overcoming the years of endured prejudice, discrimination and misunderstanding and
attempted to create a just and equal community that would benefit all Australians.
For over 225 years, Indigenous Australians have suffered from traumatic segregation and
injustice, ultimately creating an issue of the common good. In retrospect it is now
recognized that Indigenous Australians, through history, were not given a right in society nor
were they given the opportunity to freely shape their lives. The common good implies that
every individual regardless of their social or cultural differences deserve to take part and
benefit from the welfare of their community, a factor that was greatly ignored for centuries.
The government, which evidently had the largest impact on the Indigenous Australian
lifestyle did not accommodate in looking after the needs of all, rather focused only on their
white settlers; this is also known as Utilitarianism (Wayne Miller, 2008). Furthermore, the
Aboriginal people were denied to participate in political affairs until the year 1901 (Brooks,
2007). Therefore collaboration between the government and Indigenous Australians did not
exist nor empowered, resulting in inequality and a lack of self-dignity. For individuals to
successfully flourish, the context of their community needs to be balanced and contributed to
by all. Evidently this was not the case, therefore the community as a whole were unable to
achieve the common good nor were they able to create a virtuous life.
Reconciliation Australia is an organization that aims to participate towards the common
good by promoting cultural diversity and equality between Indigenous and Non- Indigenous
Australians (RA, 2013). In redeeming passed wrongs, R.A holds the belief that reconciliation
involves everyone to improve the relationship between Indigenous Australians and the
Australian community. In doing this, positive growth and communication can occur which
greatly enables the creation of a respectful and ethical country. RA has created a program
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UNCC100: Our World, Our Community


Maddelyn Holland - Tam
Simon Coghlan
S00155936
known as the Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) that involves individual and large
corporations coming together in creating goals and outcomes that contribute to positive
relationships between all individuals within Australia. Over the past 7 years, the RAP has
gained over 300 organizations (Reconciliation Action Plans, 2013), including the Australian
Catholic University (Australian Catholic University [ACU] 2013). This created more contact
with the Indigenous community, empowered relationships and generated more awareness
and success in changing the nation for the better (RA, 2013). Businesses such as DEWWR
and Telstra have successfully inspired the interaction between Indigenous and NonIndigenous Australians through broadened communication, relationships and respect
(TelstraCorp, 2011). As told by Rebecca McGrath, this form of reconciliation is vital in
improving the gap in health, education and employment, which exists between Indigenous
and Non-Indigenous Australians (Allens Law Firm, 2012). Therefore the Reconciliation
Action Plan aims to benefit all Indigenous Australians, as well as the rest of the Australian
community efforts towards closing this gap.
Accepting and working alongside different diversities is a fundamental feature of an
effective community, thereby creating such a community benefits everyone. Moreover, the
collaboration of corporations coming together to change the inequality demonstrates Global
Solidarity. Collectively we are aiming to bring everyone together, all of who hold
responsibilities that cross-racial, national and economical differences. Additionally,
Reconciliation Australia and its RAPs promote Dignity of the Human Person. The
organizations involved in RA are helping the nation recognize and respect diversity as well
as supporting the equal treatment of all individuals regardless of their culture, religion and
ethnicity. Finally, the principle of preferential option for the poor is displayed as the
community aims to take care of their most vulnerable and create conditions for marginalized
voices to be heard in order to achieve the common good.
Reconciliation Australia involves bringing the community together; it aims in atoning for the
past by creating a future of positive social and political justice for the Australian nation (RA,
2013). Although there is a long way to go and an enormous amount of support to be had,
Reconciliation Australia has made our country one step closer in creating a community with
a shared sense of purpose and citizens who work and understand why they are together.
Ultimately, we are one step closer to living a flourished life and achieving the common good.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people each hold their own experiences and personal
story of the effects that the British invasion had on their tribe and family. It is from this
variation of involvement that their thoughts on reconciliation also differ. Although the
Indigenous communities have suffered severe maltreatment, numerous individuals encourage
the reconciliation process in creating an equal and positive nation for all Australian citizens.
Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are willing to support closing the gap and
inequality between themselves and the rest of the Australian community, by educating NonIndigenous Australians on their culture and beliefs. By promoting their differences in social,
cultural and religious aspects brings awareness, understanding and a strong movement

UNCC100: Our World, Our Community


Maddelyn Holland - Tam
Simon Coghlan
S00155936
towards living harmoniously with Non-Indigenous Australians. However within this act
towards reconciliation, the Australian community must also display sensitivity and a
willingness to learn and appreciate the diversity between themselves and the first
Australians. The 2008 public apology towards the Stolen Generation given by Kevin Rudd
was an extremely important and welcomed step towards reconciliation (DFAT, 2008). The
return of Aboriginal remains taken from the Yuin people in the year 1960 was another
fundamental step. This movement although delayed, demonstrated respect for the Indigenous
population both past and present, and was acknowledged by the Yuin tribe who in return
gave the remains a proper burial with the help of the Non- Indigenous community (ABC
Reconciliation, 2013). By building a positive relationship and educating Non- Indigenous
Australians on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, benefits all involved as they
work towards an effective community and nation. Timmy Djawa Burrarrwanga a member of
the Gamatj tribe is a strong believer in reconciliation and the Ubuntu theory of I am who I
am because of who we all are (Bush TV. Media, 2012). With both parties having a
willingness to participate and contribute demonstrates the principle of Global Solidarity.
Together, they are working to be self-sufficient and bringing all diversities together, it is also
shown within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective that we all hold a
responsibility to overcome racial differences and work towards the common good.
Promotion of peace is also identified; as a society we want to encourage peace between
individuals, cultures and religions by displaying mutual respect. This is demonstrated by
working together in recognizing and acknowledging everyones differences, and creating a
future that honors all Australians. The principle of Dignity of the Human Person is also
encouraged, as both parties are able to recognize and respect the diversity between them.
Working collaboratively and treating each other equally permits each individual to hold their
own self-dignity. However, this act towards reconciliation alone cannot be deemed as the
only solution, as some individuals may believe that their customs should only be shared with
those who come from the same culture, while others may believe that learning the
differences is irrelevant. If we followed this belief we would fail to work towards
reconciliation and our chances of achieving the common good is minimal. As a nation we
must therefore encourage and continue to educate each other in creating an environment that
is filled with equality and justice, giving each of us the chance of a virtuous life.
The Business Council of Australia recognizes the importance of closing the poor health and
employment gap in order to improve the welfare of the Indigenous community (Business
Council of Australia [BCA], 2013). By acknowledging the importance of cultural diversity
and the Indigenous way of life, BCA have been able to promote strong and positive
relationships, that have allowed BCA and Indigenous businesses to work together and create
successful business outcomes that benefit everyone. The BCA contributes towards
reconciliation by assisting Indigenous businesses in both employment opportunities and
economic development initiatives (BCA, 2013). Although BCA can be seen as helping
improve the living standards and minimizing the gap between Indigenous and NonIndigenous Australians, it can also be recognized that the promotion of reconciliation by the

UNCC100: Our World, Our Community


Maddelyn Holland - Tam
Simon Coghlan
S00155936
BCA board is due more to the concern of business growth and development of the Australian
economy. Indigenous owned businesses are contributing to the national economy and by
rejecting reconciliation; Australia would be losing money, which will ultimately impact all of
its citizens. Regardless of its intention however, BCA are contributing towards
reconciliation, which ultimately contributes to the common good. Certain principles
identified include global solidarity where individual and large corporations are working
together in giving to the community; in this case working towards reconciliation whilst
contributing to the economy. It demonstrates that everyone holds a certain amount of
responsibility that must be held towards the nation, regardless of their racial, national and
economic differences. Another principle identified is participation where all individuals
have the right to participate in all forms of society including becoming business owners, as it
is unjust for one to be excluded from economic, social and/or politics affairs.
Reconciliation is a process initiated by the commonwealth to help overcome the centuries of
prejudice, inequality and racism towards the Indigenous community. It is about building new
relationships filled with cultural understanding and awareness that will empower all
Australians to work together in closing the gap and achieving justice and equity for all
(DFAT, 2008). To achieve this certain principles need to be implemented by both the
Australian nation and the Indigenous community to create the common good. First and
foremost, Australian citizens must acknowledge that individuals are part of the creations of
the world. We must demonstrate respect and interdependence for all forms, whether it is
humans, animals or the land. Secondly, we need to promote dignity for the human person and
allow individuals to be apart and contribute towards the community regardless of their
culture or ethnicity. Justice and global solidarity is also linked towards reconciliation. People
are all connected, we work to be self-sufficient and contribute to a community where people
are treated equally unless there are relevant differences between them. Finally, there is
advocacy. Over the course of Australian history, Europeans have created a large gap between
themselves and the Indigenous community, creating situations where Aboriginal Australians
find it difficult in creating justice. Therefore, by creating organizations such as
Reconciliation Australia, people are working on behalf of those who are unable to support
themselves to not only change situations that are making them victims but also change unjust
social policies. The above elements promote an effective community and an effective
community promotes the common good. The common good encourages human flourishing
and human flourishing contributes to an individual living a balanced life of happiness and
meaning. Australia will continue with reconciliation and create new history where we will all
remember, I am who I am because of who we all are.

UNCC100: Our World, Our Community


Maddelyn Holland - Tam
Simon Coghlan
S00155936

References:

ABC South East NSW. (2013, July 8). Spirits of Reconciliation [Video File]. Retrieved
From: http://www.abc.net.au/local/videos/2013/05/31/3772091.html.

Allens Law Firm (2012, May 10). Launching Allens Reconciliation Plan [Video File]
Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcfjCF-ZQAA =youtu.be.

Australian Catholic University. (2013). Mission Statement, 1998-2013. (No. 00004.


00112.00873.) Retrieved from http://www.acu.edu.au/about_acu/our_university/
governance/university_services/secretariat/mission_statement.

Australian Government. (2008). Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2005-2008.


Retrieved from http://www.dfat.gov.au/aib/.

Brooks, M. (2007) Charting the False Maps of Australian Aboriginal Education:


Rethinking Education Policy from a general semantics perspective.
International Society for General Semantics, 64(2), 135-143. Retrieved from
http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy2.acu.edu.au/docview/204067172?
accountid=8194.

Bush TV. Media. (2012, May 27). Timmy Djawa talks to Bush TV about reconciliation
[Video File]. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyRKIWKvxCQ
=youtu.be

Eckermann, A. (1998) The Economics of Aboriginal Education. International Journal of


Social Economics, 25(2/3/4), 302-313. Retrieved from http://search.proquest
.com.exproxy2.acu.edu.au/docview/274635058?accountid=8194

Reconciliation Action Plans. (2013, March 25). Turning good intentions into action
[Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jX3oVvmEVTs.

Reconciliation Australia. (2013). Building relationships for change between Aboriginal


and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians, 2005-2013. (No.
1968.133.013). Retrieved from http://www.reconciliation.org.au/.
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UNCC100: Our World, Our Community


Maddelyn Holland - Tam
Simon Coghlan
S00155936

TelstraCorp. (2011, July 31.) Telstras Reconciliation Action Plan Animations [Video
File]. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnRVXGv74LU
=youtu.be.

Wayne Miller. (2008, April 1). Ethics 5 Utilitarianism [Video File]. Retrieved from:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdtWu4Cqx1Y