Reconciliation at JCU

Reconciliation is:

  • An honest and critical understanding of Australia's shared history, and how it has informed the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians today.
  • Other Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples building and preserving mutual, positive, and respectful relationships.
  • Optimising these relationships to work together on closing the gap and to achieve a shared sense of fairness and justice as a foundation for success and to enhance our national well being.

JCU’s commitment to reconciliation is addressed in its Statement of Strategic Intent:

Acknowledging the First Nation peoples of the world, their rich cultures and their knowledge of the natural environment, we pay particular respect to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of Australia.

We are pledged to achieve genuine and sustainable reconciliation between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider community.

Our Reconciliation Statement was released 21 May 2008. On the same day, the JCU library was renamed after Eddie Koiki Mabo. 

Eddie Koiki Mabo (1936-1992) worked at one time as a gardener at JCU. A Torres Straits Islander, he is a famous figure in Australian history for his role in campaigning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land rights. He is best known for his role in the landmark decision of Australia's High Court to overturn the legal fiction of terra nullius, which characterised Australian law with regards to land and title.

At JCU, we strive to improve our ability to better recognise each other, the contributions, cultures and histories of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through education and activities. One such activity is National Reconciliation Week, which is our opportunity to recognise the unique place of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within this country. There are two significant milestones within National Reconciliation Week of note:

  1. The anniversary (27 May) of Australia’s most successful referendum, a defining event in our nation’s history. The 1967 referendum saw more than 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.
  2. The landmark Mabo decision of the High Court of Australia (3 June, 1992) to legally recognise that Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land that existed prior to colonisation and which still exists today. This recognition paved the way for Native Title land rights.

The Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) was developed following a May 2013 commitment by the Vice Chancellor to develop JCU's first action plan to strengthen our commitment to enhance the lives of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through education and research.