Friday, 22 January 2016

President's Survival Day message urges new talks on sovereignty and treaty

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan has issued a Survival Day message, calling for a new national conversation about sovereignty for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In a message released to coincide with Australia Day, Mr McMillan has asked Australians to celebrate the resilience of First Peoples and their extraordinary contributions to Australian life.  

“Our national day is a good time to see with new clarity the wonderful heritage that is embodied in the nations and clans of this land’s First Peoples,” said Mr McMillan.

“Respect for First Peoples is the hallmark of a great nation, and it’s now time for us to follow through on our unfinished business.

“For Christians, Christ’s love compels us to be truth tellers and ministers of reconciliation.

“May God grant us the perseverance to carry forward these important conversations, working together with other Australians who share a passion for indigenous justice.”

Mr McMillan says part of that conversation needs to include the possibility of a Treaty between Australia’s First and Second Peoples.

The Uniting Church added a Preamble to its own Constitution in 2010 to acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of Australia and to confess the Church’s complicity in their dispossession and assimilation.

At its triennial Assembly meeting last year, the Uniting Church committed to advancing its own internal discussions about sovereignty and Treaty with its partners in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.

A full transcript of President McMillan’s message is attached below. The message is also available on YouTube