Friday, 13 September 2019

Raising our First Peoples Voice

It has been an historic week with First Peoples Leaders from UnitingCare Australia’s network and Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) meeting together for the first time in Canberra.

 It marked a new beginning for a Uniting First Peoples Voice within the Uniting Church of Australia.

Participants gathered together in the National Botanical Gardens for two days, and the discussions led to the emergence of a way forward that will elevate the First Peoples voice across the breadth and depth of the Uniting Church and our agencies.

Emerging leaders were encouraged and supported by elders at the gathering to lead the conversations in meetings at Parliament House with Federal Indigenous Minister Ken Wyatt, Senator Rachel Siewert from the Greens, Senator Pat Dodson, the Hon Linda Burney MP and the Hon Warren Snowden MP from the Labor Party.

 UAICC President, Rev. Garry Dronfield described the gathering as “something historic and very special beginning to take shape.”

 “We came together, First Peoples leaders from every state and territory. It was and is a movement of the Spirit, within the Uniting Church in Australia,” said Rev. Garry Dronfield,

 UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer said it was wonderful to witness the excitement of this hope-filled gathering of First Peoples from across the life of our Church.

“To go together as a leadership group and meet with the Indigenous members of our Federal Parliament was a powerful witness to these parliamentarians,” Dr Palmer said.

“This gathering is an example of our commitment as the Uniting Church to walk together as First and Second Peoples towards a reconciled and just nation, where First peoples are at the centre of what it means to be Australian.”

UnitingCare Australia National Director Claerwen Little said, “There is a great deal of excitement and energy around the possibilities presented in creating a Uniting First Nations Voice.”

“The Second Peoples who were present at the gathering are equally enthusiastic about a future for this Voice.”

 A Working Group has been established to progress what has started and map out a possible way forward.

“The establishment of a working party shows our ongoing commitment,” added Rev. Dronfield.

 You can read the Assembly justice statement A Heart for First Peoples here.