2019 News

Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s Work Together for a Shared Future.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019
NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Learn more about the history of NAIDOC Week at https://www.naidoc.org.au/about/history 

This year’s NAIDOC theme: Voice. Treaty. Truth. has been inspired by the reforms set out in the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart statement which outlined the need for a First Nations Voice to the Australian Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, a shared and truthful understanding of our history and the establishment of the Makarrata Commission to “supervise treaty processes and truth-telling.”

While the 1967 referendum and the 2008 Apology to the Stolen Generations mark significant moments when the country has sought to listen to Australia’s First Peoples, symbolic gestures of reconciliation are not sufficient to heal the deep wounds that lie at the heart of our nation’s psyche. It requires spaces for truth-telling and deep listening. 

For many First Peoples, the approach to reconciliation supported by the church rings hollow. The Australian church has often disregarded the agency of First Peoples in the reconciliation process, preferring to impose its “own version” of reconciliation. Hence there is growing suspicion and apathy toward non-Indigenous led reconciliation agendas. Theologian Robert Schreiter contends that “[f]or a past truly to be overcome, people must come to a common memory of it. Otherwise, the present perpetuates the divisions of the past.”* For the church to question its own history is to acknowledge the unreliability of its own memory and assume a posture of humility and vulnerability as it listens to uncomfortable counter-histories and counter-memories. Only then will the church in Australia be able to honour and embrace God’s incredible gift of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures. 

NAIDOC Week provides a wonderful opportunity for the faith community to engage in such spaces and to learn from and celebrate the rich culture and history of Australia’s First Peoples. As stories are shared and historical assumptions are challenged, the Church in Australia can begin to walk in greater solidarity with Indigenous Australians, in the pursuit of justice and renewed relationship.  

* Robert Schreiter, Ministry of Reconciliation: Spirituality & Strategies (Ossining, NY: Orbis Books, 2015), 94-5, Kindle.

Want to get involved this NAIDOC week?

This year is the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages so, as part of NAIDOC week, IMA will be hosting and supporting various events that celebrate the languages and cultures of Australia’s First Peoples.  

Charmaine Councillor from the Bunbury Aboriginal Christian Fellowship will be facilitating two interactive singing workshops. Learn about Noongar culture as they practice and then perform gospel songs in Noongar language. 

July 7th – Fremantle Church 

July 8th – Dalkeith Rd Church

July 13th – Gospel Concert at Lifestreams Church 

Indigenous Ministries

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