What is reconciliation?

National Reconciliation Week (27 May–3 June) is a time for all Australians to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories, share that knowledge and help us grow as a nation. This year’s theme—‘Don’t keep history a mystery’—makes it personal, inviting each of us to learn more. ECA’s commitment to Reconciliation deepens each year including through our annual Reconciliation Symposium, (most recently held this month in Fremantle WA). While each Reconciliation Symposium is unique, each year it reminds us what can happen when early childhood professionals come together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, educators and community members to listen, share and understand more deeply. In this blog, JO GOODWIN, a descendant of the Wonnarua and Kamilaroi people in New South Wales and an experienced early childhood professional, explores reconciliation.

The concept of reconciliation for all Australians is difficult to define because it is many things to many people.

In practical terms, an ongoing commitment to progressing reconciliation with young children can be achieved through building positive relationships, demonstrating respect and creating opportunities with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader community in which you live or work.

Reconciliation Australia has developed a vision for reconciliation that is based on five interrelated dimensions: race relations; equality and equity; unity; institutional integrity; and historical acceptance. These five dimensions do not exist in isolation—they are interrelated, and Australia can only achieve full reconciliation if it progresses in all five dimensions, weaving them together to become a whole.

Race Relations: All Australians understand and value Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous cultures, rights and experiences, which results in stronger relationships based on trust and respect and that are free of racism.

Equality and Equity: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples participate equally in a range of life opportunities and the unique rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are recognised and upheld.

Unity: An Australian society that values and recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage as a proud part of a shared national identity.

Institutional Integrity: The active support of reconciliation by the nation’s political, business and community structures.

Historical Acceptance: All Australians understand and accept the wrongs of the past and the impact of these wrongs. Australia makes amends for the wrongs of the past and ensures they are never repeated.


The five dimensions of reconciliation will be progressed through our individual and collective commitments, through our actions, behaviours, conversations, stories and willingness to accept that we must do better to ensure bright futures for all Australian children, particularly our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

This article was taken from the Everyday Learning Series—A guide to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures: The important first step to reconciliation. To purchase your copy, click here

Jo Goodwin

Jo Goodwin is a descendant of the Wonnarua and Kamilaroi peoples in New South Wales (NSW). Jo has a strong commitment to progressing reconciliation and exploring the practice of cultural competence in service delivery. She has an extensive background in early childhood and social inclusion, and was the State Manager for UnitingCare Community Inclusion Support Agencies located in six regions across Queensland. Prior to this, Jo worked extensively for many years in varied early childhood education and care services across Australia, including early intervention in NSW, Multifunctional Aboriginal children’s services in both Queensland and the Northern Territory, and community development work.

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