Dodson praises 'people's reconciliation movement'
By Jenny Long
SYDNEY — Around 300 people gathered on a cold and rainy night on July 14 in Sydney's eastern suburbs to hear Pat Dodson speak about the meaning and process of reconciliation. The meeting was jointly organised by Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) and the Eastern Suburbs Organisation for Reconciling Australia.
Peter O'Brien from ANTaR outlined ANTaR's current project — the nation-wide consultation on the document of reconciliation from the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (CAR). ANTaR will be organising meetings around the country on the document.
Dodson paid tribute to groups like ANTaR, describing them as a "people's movement". Because they had tried to stand up for the right thing, he said, they have been vilified by vested interests, bigots and racists.
Decent Australians, Dodson said, had the right to know the truth about Australian history, which was sadly lacking in the federal government's scare campaign against native title and its insulting indifference to the stolen generations inquiry's finding that the taking of Aboriginal children amounted to genocide.
Dodson said the important thing now was to maximise the opportunities offered by CAR to scrutinise the range — personal to systemic — of inequalities in Australia. The document need not be long and complicated, he said, but should pay attention to a political solution to the problem by breaking the idea that white Australia can't have agreements with indigenous people.
Responding to a question about dealing with vested interests opposing land rights and native title, Dodson said a conciliatory approach was needed and only negotiation could solve the differences between the movement and industries like mining which have a long history of hostility to land rights.