2023 News

The Voice: Listening to Aboriginal Christian Leaders

Wednesday, 5 July 2023

GMP partner Les Schultz belongs to the WA Indigenous Ministries Australia Council (IMA). He's a Ngadju Elder and Christian leader. Recently Les attended the United Nations. He was a delegate at the 22nd Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York, USA. This was in connection with his role with the Ngadju Conservation Aboriginal Corporation.

Today though, Les sits under the shade of a gumtree. Seated in a red camping chair on Whadjuk Noongar country, Western Australia. He introduces himself as “a Ngadju bloke from the Western Nullarbor”. Also, from the "Great Western Woodlands”.

As the breeze sways in the leaves, Les shares a message close to his heart. 

“We’re counting on Australians in general to support the Voice to Parliament," Les shares. “For Indigenous [people] to be enshrined within the constitution. I mean, we’ve been here 40,000 years and yet we’re still not in there.”

Les is one of many IMA partners who advocate for the Voice to Parliament. As Australians consider the upcoming referendum, Les asks us to “come across and listen to the Indigenous Voice”.

“It’s time for us to grow as a nation," Les reflects. “The Voice to Parliament is essential, especially for all of us Indigenous [people] right across [Australia]. Where community is empowered, we begin to save costs on community and begin to see happier communities, less crime and less health issues.”

Les believes we have a lot to learn from one another about our shared histories and cultures. He desires a better relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. "The best way we can do that is by communicating. Talking to each other and walking alongside each other and working out the way forward.” He shares that within the Indigenous language, “there’s a gold vein that explains this country like the back of your hand”. Les explains that until we, as a nation, come together, we won’t be able to “extract a lot of that gold”.

Les also believes Australian churches can play a significant role in this decision. “We need to share our thoughts and values with the rest of our networks. Not just through our households." Les describes it as light. "Put it out there so that the light can be seen from the top of the beacon."

This journey won't be easy, but Les is full of hope. “We’re gonna hurt as we deal with the truth of the issue around Australia’s history. But it’s only gonna be for the good, because it’s going to heal us."

GMP stands alongside our Indigenous partners in Australia. We seek to listen and learn from them in partnership. We seek to share our partners' voices. To encourage listening and learning within the GMP community. First Nations voices like Les.

“Let’s support [the Indigenous Australian] in his hour of need,” Les shares. “The hour of need is the Voice to Parliament.” 

“Open the door for Indigenous people to have a Voice to Parliament." He says, "It’s a simple thing”.

GMP recognises and respects the diverse journeys of Australians and Australian churches. We seek to share our partners’ voices to encourage listening and learning. Together we can partner in our nation’s future, as one diverse body. It is an opportunity to respond to the generous invitation made by First Nations Australians in their Uluru Statement from the Heart (2017).

You can read GMP's statement about the Indigenous Voice to Parliament on the GMP website.

If you would like to speak to someone about this further, please email GMP Director of Community Education Colin Battersby colinb@gmp.org.au 

Indigenous Ministries

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