Common Grace submission to the Joint Select Committee on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice Referendum, 21 April 2023
When we imagine the world as God intends for it to be, it is a picture of unfathomable love manifesting as beauty, goodness and grace. In Australia, we believe it’s a picture of our nation listening deeply to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the truth of our shared history. A picture where pursuing true reconciliation brings an end to injustices, and the oldest continuing cultures in the world are celebrated as a blessing to us all.
The history of our nation deeply affects the present and our future.
For over 60,000 years, over 300 Aboriginal nations with over 600 dialects of language dwelt on the continent we now call Australia. Over 2,000 generations of Aboriginal people lived and died here, as custodians and stewards of these lands and waters. For millennia, Country was stewarded in ways that saw the creation flourish, its creatures cared for and the beauty and abundance of the land provide enough for all.
In 1770 Captain Cook landed on Possession Island and began the story of Australia, which would bring about dramatic and all too often tragic changes across these lands. The rightful stewardship of the land was taken from Aboriginal peoples, while they were subjected to dispossession, disease, death and trauma. Injustices that reverberate into the present day.
These lands and all Australians are harmed by what has happened to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Only together - with prayer, lament, deep listening, friendship and collective action for justice - can we all heal and flourish.
From the beginning there have been voices that have reminded us that this story was unjust, that as image bearers of God and custodians of the land, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should have been deeply respected and treated with honour. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, alongside many allies, have been calling for respect, dignity and justice since the story of Australia began. It has taken too long for their voices to be listened to, but we are excited to see that progress is being made.
At Common Grace, we are committed to seeing this progress continue. Just as God is at work reconciling all creation to himself, righting wrongs and restoring people to relationship, we pursue the righting of past and present injustices faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We are led by our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Leaders and we engage in deep listening, adopting a posture of humility, generosity, service and solidarity on the pathway to justice and healing.
We dream of a transformed Australia, where First Nations peoples are rightfully honoured and respected as the traditional custodians of these lands and as continual caretakers and stewards.
We invite you to come on the journey with us as we listen deeply to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and act together for justice.
Common Grace's Opening Statement at the Community Support and Services Committee of the Queensland Parliament public hearing for the Criminal Law (Raising the Age of Responsibility) Amendment Bill 2021 held on 14 February 2022.
Bianca Manning calls us to go on a journey of education and learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice.
Nathan Campbell shares what it means to attend #ChangeTheHeart services and why you should accept Aunty Jean Phillips' invitation and come on the journey.