The Australian Reconciliation Barometer
This week Professor Mick Dodson AM will give the annual ANU reconciliation lecture. His topic, “How well do we know each other?” touches on the findings of the Australian Reconciliation Barometer. What is the Barometer? Here is a simple Q & A to help you learn more.
1. What is the Australian Reconciliation Barometer?
The Barometer is a national research study that looks at the relationship between Indigenous and other Australians. Designed to be repeated every two years, the Barometer explores how we see and feel about each other, and how those perceptions can affect progress towards reconciliation and closing the gaps. This is the first time we have compared core attitudes and values of Indigenous Australians to those of other Australians. The Barometer is an indicator of how we see ourselves and where we aspire to be as Australians.
2. Why do we need a Barometer?
Reconciliation involves building mutually respectful and trusting relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. To help us build these relationships it’s important that we understand the relationship we have now and how it is shaped by people’s knowledge, perceptions and attitudes towards each other.
3. What did the research find?
The Barometer uncovers both opportunities and barriers to reconciliation. It shows there has been positive progress and that if we want to achieve reconciliation and close the gap, we need to make a whole lot more, particularly around building trust, increasing knowledge and breaking down myths and stereotypes. While the Barometer shows that Indigenous and other Australians see many things differently, it also indicates we actually have more in common than we think – we see ourselves very similarly on core Australian characteristics like being good at sport, good humoured and friendly.
4. What are the positive messages from the research?
There are encouraging signs for the future of reconciliation in Australia, including:
• All Australians see the relationship between Indigenous and other Australians as important
• There is a high level of pent up interest in learning more about Indigenous history and culture from the general public and a strong desire to have more contact with Indigenous Australians
• Indigenous people are keen to share their culture with all Australians
• We have more in common than we think.
5. What are the challenging messages from this research?
There are also some barriers to reconciliation that need to be overcome, including:
• The level of trust is very low both ways
• The general public doesn’t really know what to do to support reconciliation
• The two groups have different perspectives on the causes of disadvantage
• We don’t recognise in each other qualities that we value in ourselves.
6. What change would Reconciliation Australia like to see when the survey is repeated in 2010?
The kind of changes needed for reconciliation to flourish, including building trust between people, takes time. However, we hope that during the first two years of the Barometer, community education and engagement activities will encourage:
• more people knowing what they can do and acting on it
• more people taking opportunities to learn about Indigenous history and culture and the ongoing contribution of Indigenous Australians to the life of the nation
• increased awareness having a positive impact on how we see each other (shifting perceptions)
• governments better informing the Australian public of why their investment in improving the lives of Indigenous Australians is good for all of us
• people being better informed about the causes of Indigenous disadvantage.
To learn more about the Australian Reconciliation Barometer, go to http://www.reconciliation.org.au/home/reconciliation-resources/australian-reconciliation-barometer