In a recent article for Reconciliation News, Reconciliation Australia’s CEO, Karen Mundine says:
“In addition to disclosing the fact that 90 per cent of Australians believe that the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important… 79 per cent agree that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are integral to Australia’s national identity.”
Ms Mundine continues:
“Almost all Australians (95 per cent) believe ‘it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in matters that affect them’ and 80 per cent believe it is important to ‘undertake formal truth telling processes’, with 86 percent believing it is important to learn about past issues.”
Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine
In March this year 18 legal firms endorsed the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the need to formally build the Voice into the Australia Constitution.
Another 21 CEO’s or Chairpersons of large investment, banking and accounting business have since endorsed the Statement as well, along with the constitutional and other processes required to enact it.
Palawa Elder Uncle Stanley Smith with Pastor Mark Kickett (Development Officer, UAICC SA) at Fanny Cochrane Smith’s Methodist Church, Nicholls Rivulet, SE Tasmania.
For many years now, the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress has encouraged all parts of our Church to ‘Walk on Country’ with First Nations Peoples.
Further they encourage First Nation Peoples to walk on one another’s country and share stories.
Recently some members of the Vic-Tas Synod including the Moderator, Rev Sharon Hollis (President-elect) and General Secretary, Rev Mark Lawrence, did a walk on country in Tasmania with elders and staff from the UAICC’s Leprena facility in Hobart.
Ayla Williams from Leprena said:
“These were totally enriching in culture and reminded us all of the importance of connection to people. It reminds us of who we are – how beautiful to be part of this story!”
Leprena Centre Manager Alison Overeem has shared her thoughts on what Walking Together with Courage means for her.
“What does it truly mean to walk together?” asks Alison.
“What does “together” truly mean? How do we create spaces and places for this to happen?
“How do we immerse ourselves in each other’s stories? In a meaningful, reflective and sustainable way that allows us to do deep listening and deep hearing?”
“First we must have courage to have our stories spoken, courage as First People
Courage to have our stories heard,” says Alison.
“And we must have listening hearts that have the courage to connect to these stories - the stories that sit within country, the stories of the land, the sea and the sky.
“The stories and the moon and the stars and the stories passed down from our ancestors.
“The stories of struggle and survival of the Oldest Living Culture on Earth; the stories that sit within First Peoples that need to be heard, upheld and embraced; the courage to hear the pain in these stories from First People, with deep deep courage and deep deep connection.
“For it is only when we stop to connect, with courage to these stories, and share the stories that we can truly: walk together.”
“Walk together as brothers and sisters, walking together with equity and truth, with courage and empathy - and with a vision for sustained and meaningful covenanting.”
“At Leprena UAICC Tasmania it is our belief that courage is two way," says Alison.
“Courage for us as First Peoples to open the door, to speak our truth.
“And the courage to open the door have our stories heard and held by Second Peoples.
“Then and only then through connections can we not just WALK together but we can TRAVEL together.”
Keep an eye on the hashtag #NRW2019 on social media over the next week for events and updates.
Reconciliation Australia's #NRW2019 resources are availble on its website - and include a range of ways to get involved.
The TEAR Australia Reconciliation resource was produced in South Australia and includes a video with some UCA members - Rhanee Tsetsakos, Pastor Mack Kickett and Rev. Steve Bevis, Minister of the Word at Alice Springs Uniting Church.
If you're up for a watch party, SBS has produced a "Reconciliation Film Club".
You can also sign up to receive a series of daily blog posts and prayers written by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Christian via the group Common Grace.
Blessings to you, wherever you are on your reconciliation journey.