“Our heritage as a nation began long before 1788. It began at creation,” said Mr McMillan.
“I am committed to honouring First Peoples as sovereign over these lands and waters, to recognising our nation’s brutal history and to a negotiated just terms way forward for us as a mature nation.
“May the Creator Spirit guide us to a maturity which recognises our past and enables us to embrace our future together as Australians.”
Mr McMillan, a Yolŋu speaker who is an adopted member of the Gupapuyngu clan of the Yolŋu Nations, says he will spend January 26 celebrating the survival of the First Peoples, mourning the lives lost, and praying for justice and reconciliation.
The Uniting Church in Australia made its official apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in 1996 well over a decade before the Australian Government.
The 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 national Assembly meeting in 2015, the Uniting Church also committed to exploring what recognising sovereignty and Treaty with its partners in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress would mean for the Church.