In July my family had the privilege of being hosted ‘on country’ by an Aboriginal traditional owner east of Alice Springs. The experience was profoundly moving and has deepened our commitment – both as a family and as a church – to walk together with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Last week my friend and colleague Rex Granites Japanangka, in a speech at Kalkarinji for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Wave Hill ‘walk off’ by the Gurindji people, brought together connection to country and to ‘counttymen’ (as Aboriginal peoples put in the centre): the joy of being connected to what and whom you love.
Traditional owners inhabit these connections to country and to God and it is always a privilege to listen with them to both land and spirit. Vincent Lingiari, also inspired by the old Christian story, understood these connections and inspired a movement that changed the country.
Patrick Dodson, Federal Senator and formerly the Chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, thinks we have been ‘actively pulling apart the delicate threads of reconciliation that many Australians have been weaving into a beautiful garment’. How have the ‘threads of reconciliation’ and the Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples as Australia’s First Peoples been delayed and derailed? The politics of postponement has frustrated social justice for Australia’s first peoples leaving many disappointed and disillusioned. After a significant milestone in Australian democracy in 1967, when Aboriginal people were included as citizens of Australia in the national census, justice has stalled since 2008 when the Australian Prime Minister formally apologised on behalf of the government to the stolen generations.
Recently Paddington Anglican Church decided to partner with the Gawura School (a school for Indigenous students within St Andrews Cathedral School). This financial partnership will enable a Year 12 Gawura student, who will be completing the HSC but will not be going to university in 2017, to enrol in a hospitality course in Edgecliff.
There are many other ways we can truly walk together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The presence and participation at Winter Storytelling Night of Warren Roberts, the CEO of YARN Australia, a group that is dedicated to fostering relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people was another thread in the ‘beautiful garment’ of full recognition and reconciliation.
Geoff’s Article in the Sydney Standard Released this week