26 May 2020

SMH | 26 May 2020 | National reconciliation is closer than we dare imagine

​Reconciliation Week is a chance to think about the nation’s unfinished business. I believe national reconciliation is closer than many of us dare to dream.

When I sat down to write my first speech to the Senate last year, I agonised over every word in the section on reconciliation because there are so many spent hopes in this space. So many promises not delivered.

In 2020, we mark the week in the light of two positive developments which I have noticed: more Indigenous success in education and progress on an Indigenous voice.

First, on success, the efforts on education are paying off. More Indigenous Australians are succeeding on the education front.

I have met many of these young students when they have visited Parliament House in Canberra. Groups like the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation have educated more than 600 Indigenous children at top schools.

AIEF has provided scholarships to 353 Indigenous students from 166 communities in NSW. It means a young woman from Nowra can go to a school like St Catherine’s Waverley, which opens a broader horizon of opportunity. This isn’t for everyone and attending a school like this isn’t a precondition for success, but speaking as a person who was educated in a local school in the regions, I have no doubt that preparation for further study is aided by going to a top performing school.