On a bitterly cold morning on May 26, 2000, more than 250,000 people walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge in support of Indigenous Australians.
This walk was the culmination of 10 years work by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, set up by the Federal Government to promote greater understanding between Indigenous and other Australians. The day was dominated by issues such as a formal treaty with Australia's first peoples and the refusal of Prime Minister John Howard to apologise to the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal people removed from their families by successive Australian governments.
The following day was Corroboree 2000, at the Sydney Opera House. It was a major gathering of Australia's leader,s including the Governor-General, the Governor of New South Wales, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, all the State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers, the Leaders of the Federal Opposition and the Australian Democrats, and the President of the Australian Local Government Association.
The aim of the day was to endorse the Reconciliation Council¹s Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation. Indigenous speakers such as Geoff Clark, the first elected Chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, pointedly reminded Australians that Prime Minister John Howard had still refused apologise to the Stolen Generations. His government had also not acted to override the Northern Territory¹s mandatory sentencing laws, had authored a submission denying the concept of the "Stolen Generations" and had rejected parts of the declaration before it had even been delivered to the nation during Corroboree 2000.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge walk was followed by large bridge walks in other capital cities around Australia. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation is now known as Reconciliation Australia, which was set up after the bridge walk in 2000.