Redefining the Mainstream: Local Government, Inclusive Communities

The Second National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism, Immigration and Human Rights


Dr Michael Leahy
President, Geelong 'One Fire' Reconciliation Group, and Institute of Koorie Education, Deakin University, Geelong

'Practical Reconciliation' - Assimilation by Another Name: A Case for a Morally Defensible Alternative

Since the early 1990s there has been in Australia a national commitment to reconciliation with the country's indigenous peoples. There has been considerable debate, however, throughout Australia about how reconciliation is to be understood. While there is general agreement that, at its most fundamental level, this debate is about how to remedy the injustices affecting the indigenous peoples of this land, there is profound disagreement about how these injustices are to be defined, and what the obligations of the Australian state are to remedy them. At the root of this disagreement lies a clash between the fundamental conceptions of justice and constitutionalism held by the debaters. One of these conceptions clearly exemplified in the Australian (Coalition) Government's policy of 'practical reconciliation'. Since I believe this conception is morally defective, I intend to use a critique of the policy expressing it for my wider purpose of exposing the inadequacies of the conception itself.

Dr. Michael Leahy is an educational and political philosopher who has lectured in the Western Australian College of Advanced Education (now Edith Cowan University) and Australian Catholic University. He is now a sessional staff member of the Institute of Koorie Education and the President of the Geelong 'One Fire' Reconciliation Group. He has contributed numerous articles to refereed journals.

Presentation Type
30 min. Paper

Equipment Requirements:


Deakin Woolstores Campus, Geelong Waterfront
30 November - 1 December 2001