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Reconciliation Australia sees new opportunity

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 30 November 2004

Reconciliation Australia says it is time for another concerted push for reconciliation.

The national board has made a submission to the Senate Select Committee on the Administration of Indigenous Affairs, recommending ATSIC regional councils not be abolished until strong replacements are ensured.

The board's co-chairman Fred Chaney says a national, Indigenous-owned independent body is also needed.

Mr Chaney says the submission emphasises the importance of involving Indigenous people in policy development.

"I think that there are lots of really good signs," he said.

"No one could say that we're at a point that we could be really happy with, but I think there are lots of good signs that we could move on from here in a much more successful way than in the last 10 years."

He says a 10 year plan by Reconciliation Australia will be launched to coincide with the 40th Anniversary of the 1967 referendum giving the Commonwealth power to legislate for Indigenous people.

A second reconciliation convention will also be held in 2007, exactly 10 years after the first convention.

Mr Chaney says it is time to re-examine the way Indigenous affairs are administered.

"There's a real need to set a course in reconciliation and to set a course in Indigenous affairs which will effect real changes, both in our relationships and in the physical material circumstances of Indigenous people," he said.

"We think the time's overdue for a new agenda, we've got to work with all elements of the community to set that agenda up."

Mr Chaney predicts there will be more racial violence as the nation struggles with Indigenous issues.

He says the anger felt by many Indigenous Australians in the wake of the death in custody on Palm Island is justified.

"It won't be the last of the bad news. Let's be realistic, we had the terrible events at Redfern not very long ago," he said.

"We've now got equally terrible events in and perhaps even as bad events occurring on Palm Island."

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