Rev Dr Geoff Broughton reflects on ministering alongside Waka Waka woman Brooke Prentis at this year's Surrender Conference, and ending the Great Australian Silence by listening and amplifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices.
This morning I woke up the same as I do every day, praying for our country, the state of our nation, the healing for our land.
You see, as an Aboriginal person I don’t often see the Australian Dream, I see, hear and feel the Australian nightmare. Last night many Australians finally got to see and hear and start to feel that Australian nightmare. This has been our reality for over 225 years.
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This morning I woke up thinking that a prayer had been answered. That prayer that I have asked many Christians and Churches to pray – the prayer that Australia would wake up from it’s long, cold, silent slumber. And I felt it. I heard it. People were shocked, disturbed, crying at seeing our children in onshore detention being tortured, a violation of human rights, right here in Australia. The Australian nightmare.
Australia woke up this morning opening its eyes to horrific scenes from a Northern Territory juvenile detention centre, opening its ears to the howls for justice for Aboriginal peoples of over two centuries, opening its heart to feel sadness for our children and their families, opening its mind to take action. Last night I went to sleep thinking of the true, personal stories of injustice of our children in the “justice” system, thinking of how my people and children have been killed, tortured, imprisoned for over 225 years, thinking how Australia has seemingly got away with this for so, so, so long. I’m pleading with you Australia – our children don’t deserve onshore detention, torture, humiliation. . .they are children, not animals.
Australia, this is our wake up call – where as non-Aboriginal Australians you finally see us, hear us, feel for us and cry with us. Today we woke up with pain. I know this pain. All Aboriginal people know this pain. We often try to tell you but only a few seem to listen. We must deal with the pain. As Aboriginal peoples we can tell you that even though we feel pain every day we also see hope. This morning that hope was as Australians finally woke up, Australians were seeing the truth, Australians wanted justice, and it is with love that we can see hope. You have heard me call and pray for it before – an Australia built on truth, justice, love and hope. May this morning’s wake up call be a call to prayer to start building that new future for our nation.
So what can we do? What can you do? We will keep you updated with ways you can engage with petitions and calls to action. But first in this time of distress let us pray. I’ve used this verse before but today it held specific meaning. 2 Chronicles 7:14 “ if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Last night we saw wicked, wicked things. Please continue to listen to Aboriginal peoples and may we all seek Jesus and Justice in this land.
What else can you do? Read the 330 recommendations for the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. It wasn’t only about Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Only a handful of these recommendations were ever implemented. If Australia had implemented recommendation 92 that detention be a last resort we wouldn’t have seen what we saw last night. As Aboriginal peoples we didn’t just find out about horrors last night, it’s been 25 years (and longer) of systemic injustice.
This time, let's NOT forget. Let us remember. Let us be compelled to action. Us. You and I together in love. All peoples in this nation.
The Artwork is by Waka Waka Artist Jasmin Roberts titled "Will You?" "Will take my hand? Will you help me find truth? Will you help me seek justice? Will you please, please, please take my hand?" Painted for this year's NAIDOC theme "Songlines: The Living Narrative of Our Nation”.