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Reconciliation Place Signals the Way Forward

Reconciliation Place Signals the Way Forward

Reconciliation Place in Canberra will be an enduring symbol of the journey of reconciliation and marks an important event in Australia's history, Indigenous Affairs Minister, Philip Ruddock, said today.

Speaking at the opening of Reconciliation Place on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, Mr Ruddock said that, while people may have different attitudes and approaches to reconciliation, he believed it was about hearts and minds and bringing people together in a spirit of better understanding and shared experience.

"Reconciliation Place will tell stories of belonging and separation, hurt and hardship and, importantly, achievement and aspects of our history that are cause for celebration," Mr Ruddock said.

"This place will make a powerful statement about how we now value the contribution of Indigenous Australians to the life and culture of our nation.

"Reconciliation is an evolving process and the future of Australia's path towards reconciliation will be reflected in the ongoing development of Reconciliation Place.

"Future governments, in consultation with Indigenous people, will build on the foundations that we have laid."

Following the launch of Reconciliation Place, the Prime Minister, John Howard, opened the nearby Commonwealth Place and Speakers Square.

The Prime Minister and Mr Ruddock were joined by members of the Reconciliation Place Steering Committee, including co-chairs Dr Evelyn Scott and Ian Spicer, the Co-chairs of Reconciliation Australia, the Hon Fred Chaney and Jackie Huggins, and the Chairman of ATSIC, Geoff Clark, at the launch.

Several hundred guests also attended the launch.

Mr Ruddock said there would be many images displayed at Reconciliation Place over time to depict milestones on the path to reconciliation.

The first four images include:

„h an acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the Canberra region, the Ngun(n)awal people, recognising the survival and strength of their living culture

„h the 1967 referendum, as a watershed in the history of reconciliation and one of the great milestones in the history of Australia

„h the recognition of Indigenous peoples' native title rights marking the continuing presence and occupation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia's land and waters

„h Indigenous achievement in sports and in the defence services, acknowledging the contribution that Indigenous men and women have made, and continue to make, to Australia

Mr Ruddock thanked the National Sorry Day Committee for the goodwill that they have shown and said he looked forward to the results of further consultation about the way in which to depict the important question of separated children.

Mr Ruddock indicated that a further sliver was planned which would recognise Indigenous leaders Neville Bonner and Vincent Lingiari. He said that other images will be added over time to represent other developments of our shared history.

22 July 2002


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