NRW 2020 Resources

Introduction

At Crystal Creek, just north of Townsville, Queensland in 1982 a national gathering of First Peoples and Maori leaders from Aotearoa NZ came together. A vision was birthed for a ‘black congress’ within the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA).

The following year in 1983 another national gathering took place at Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island, in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory to plan the work required for the vision to live. By 1985 the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) was recognised by the UCA’s National Assembly at its triennial meeting.

So began the UCA’s Walking Together as First and Second Peoples, a journey of struggle, learning and commitment. Almost ten years after the recognition of the UAICC the UCA entered into a formal Covenant with the UAICC. Creating a binding commitment to one another and acknowledging the wrongs of the colonial past and the Church’s part in these.

In 1996 the governing body of the Church acknowledged and apologised for its part in the policies which led to the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families and the trauma that we now understand tragically became a generational legacy.

The deepening of the commitment to the journey came in 2009 when the National Assembly adopted a new Preamble to the UCA’s Constitution.

This Preamble formally recognised the tragic history of colonisation and the Church’s part in this. In the Preamble the UCA also acknowledged that God was already present with the people before the arrival of the colonisers and committing to a ‘destiny together’.

When the National Assembly met in 2018 it affirmed the Sovereignty of First Peoples and endorsed the recommendations of the 2017 Statement from the Heart.

The UCA Vision for a Just Australia (2019) has as its number one foundation:

A First Peoples Heart - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, nurtured and sustained by God before colonisation, are celebrated at the very heart of what it means to be Australian.

First People’s sovereignty is affirmed. First Peoples have a voice in the decision making of our country and are living out their right to self-determination. As First and Second Peoples, we walk together, creating socially just and culturally safe relationships, listening and learning from one another.

The Uniting Church in Australia with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress affirm the apologies, acknowledgements and commitments made in the last 38 years. We are in this together.