Sep 18, 2011

Walking for reconciliation along the Cooks River

I am pleased today to join with the Canterbury Aboriginal Advisory Group and the Cooks River Valley Association to take part in the Two Valley Trail Reconciliation Walk.

The goals of this event are to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the area and foster dialogue and understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous residents of this area with a view to enhancing reconciliation.

This is something I believe in strongly. I was pleased that among the first acts of the new Labor Government was the apology delivered by Kevin Rudd on 12 February 2008 and a commitment to reducing Indigenous disadvantage with important Closing the Gap targets.

These include:

  • within five years, all Indigenous four-year-olds in remote Indigenous communities having access to a quality early childhood education program;
  • within the decade, halving the gap in infant mortality, halving the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievements by Indigenous children, and halving the gap in employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians; and,
  • within a generation, at least halving the gap for Indigenous students in year 12 or equivalent attainment rates by 2015, and closing the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

This has been backed up by a commitment from federal, state and territory governments of more than $4.6 billion in health, housing, early childhood and economic participation funding to achieve these goals.

I believe events such as the Two Valley Trail Reconciliation Walk are important steps on the road to reconciliation and I commend the organisers for their initiative.