Reconciliation is the task of nation building

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

‘To date, reconciliation in Australia has focused on citizenship rights and better statistical outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, when true reconciliation is much more difficult and much more rewarding’, says the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

‘Reconciliation Week’s theme for 2019, “Grounded in Truth: Walk Together with Courage”, challenges us all to understand the history of our country and have the courage to be truthful about this history.

‘Reconciliation is the task of nation building and is not something that will happen quickly.

‘As a nation, we need to acknowledge the past 200 years and understand its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

‘We need to have the courage to apologise for the dispossession and racism experienced by First Australians—representing a significant 3.3% of the Australian population.

‘We need to atone by acting together to improve the statistical outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples under a range of indicators such as health, education, employment, housing and culture.

‘And we need a process of truth-telling that will lead to a treaty and voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples protected by the Australian constitution—as called for in the Uluru Statement.

‘Only then, with much effort and preparation, will Australia be ready for forgiveness and able to come together strong as a nation.

‘AHHA welcomes the December 2018 announcement of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap by the Council of Australian Governments as a key part of Australian jurisdictions committing to a formal partnership on Closing the Gap with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

‘Shared decision-making with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, through their representative organisations, in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Closing the Gap framework is essential to closing the gap in life outcomes between First Australians and the general population.

‘The health sector has a key role to play in delivering better services and improving outcomes on a daily basis and as part of routine business.

‘AHHA encourages all Australians to use this week to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.’

More information about the AHHA is available at ahha.asn.au. To read more about AHHA’s journey read our Reconciliation Action Plan. Our Reconciliation Week podcast is available here

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries:  Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, AHHA

0403 282 501