On Wednesday we focus on Indigenous Reconciliation. We seek to move towards reconciliation, learning to live and work in partnership and harmony, with indigenous and non-indigenous brothers and sisters.
We believe that the way the Aboriginal people were treated by the early colonial society, which involved the deliberate driving away of the original inhabitants and sometimes massacres of innocent people, is a huge scar on our Australian society. The way the “Stolen Generations” were treated in the 20th Century shows that deep seated prejudice has not been eliminated. Our calling is to affirm the right of the First Peoples to develop their own culture and find their own ways of relating to mainline Australian culture.
The Wellspring Community seeks, from a Christian perspective, to work with Aboriginal people, to learn from them and find ways to express our Christian calling to reconciliation. The Apology by the Government in 2008 was an important step but there needs to be much more to enable Aboriginal people to recover from centuries of exploitation and discrimination and be affirmed as full members of Australian society.
One person who has made an important contribution to this process is Father Eugene Stockton, who is a Catholic priest and a Member of our Community. He has worked for many years as an archaeologist, exploring Aboriginal sites to develop our understanding of their culture. He has also studied Aboriginal Art in Catholic churches and has brought out a book on “Aboriginal Church Paintings”. He has also written several books exploring Indigenous Spirituality. One particular book is “The Aboriginal Gift - Spirituality for a Nation”. This includes the creative picture that all the different cultures (European, Asian and Pacific Islander) are like roots spreading out from the base of the tree of Australian society. However Aboriginal Culture is the tap root, the deep root going straight down into the earth. Their culture has been developed for more than 40,000 years so they are the First Peoples. We need to recognise their priority. The tap root for the Christian Gospel was God's revelation to the Jewish people. In the same way, Aboriginal culture is the taproot for Australian culture today. The fascination of present day Australians with indigenous paintings is a sign of this.
We express some of these concerns by supporting other groups like
National and Torres Strait Island Ecumenical Council
Campfire of the Heart
The Uluru Statement from the Heart
The Uluru Statement from Heart, One Year On: Can a First Nations Voice Yet be Heard?
Megan Davis, Cheryl Saunders, Mark McKenna et al
One year ago (26 May 2017), an unprecedented gathering of Indigenous elders and academics, delegates and activists, held out an invitation to non-indigenous Australians to join with them in a process of truth-telling and political attentiveness.
The gathering called for a constitutionally enshrined "First Nations Voice" which would be able to speak into Parliament, and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission which would lay the foundation for a Treaty between federal and state governments and the First Nations.
What makes the Uluru Statement almost miraculous in our time - a time when soulless pragmatism holds sway in our political culture, and representative politics so often proves profoundly unrepresentative - is the way that it brought together the will of the people and the deliberative wisdom of the elders. This pain-staking process not only gives the Uluru Statement the ring of democratic legitimacy, but it also affords the document a unique moral vernacular that is at once practical and passionate.
On one level, it is little wonder that some federal politicians have baulked at the Statement's recommendations. Perhaps they understand that the challenge of the Uluru Statement from the Heart goes to the heart of our political order. As the writers here each acknowledge, its invitation is a radical one. It is an invitation to rediscover some of the resources within the Western political tradition - resources that have grown stale through neglect, contempt or cynical misuse - and to allow our politics to be addressed by a voice that has long been assiduously silenced.
The Uluru Statement confronts non-indigenous Australians with the full force of the moral claim that the First Nations rightly have on our attention. It is a demand to be heard, but it is also - generously, even tenderly - an invitation to speak together, to hear one another afresh. It is as though, through some radical act of unmerited hospitality, we are being invited by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to join them at a table they have set, in order that we might learn together what it means to be political companions (in the original sense of the word, as those who break-bread together).
One year on, the question remains: can that invitation still be heard? And will we accept?
READINGS AND PRAYER
"Today when you encounter someone from another race or religion or 'some stranger in the midst', let some words, or a wave, some courtesy or kindness to them be a living prayer that will bless them and you."
"Pray Now. Daily devotions for the year 2004." p. 23.
Recommended Links for Australian Reconciliation
National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission