There are few moments in contemporary Australian history that I have found more uplifting than 16 August 1991. It was on that day that, in an important moment of cross-party cooperation, the Federal Parliament gave historic unanimous support to legislation to initiate a process of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the wider community. This rare political endorsement reflected the position of the reconciliation process as one of Australia's most important initiatives, lying as it does at the heart of Australia's identity as a nation. But this landmark didn't just happen. It flowed from years of determined political and public struggle by a relatively small core of Australians to bring this country closer to the achievement of social justice and equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Almost a quarter of a century before the reconciliation process began, Federal Parliament provided a lead to the community when the then Coalition Government and the Labor Opposition joined to support constitutional change affecting Aboriginal people.
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