The Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Team brings you their vision for Australia and their policy proposals in the face of the upcoming Election.
Our Vision for Australia
When you live in this land we now call Australia as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person, you see a different Australia. We see an Australia that is in a mess, in ruins, and in chaos. The Australia we see is one in which Aboriginal children are committing suicide at the highest rate anywhere in the world, a new Stolen Generation is being created with Aboriginal babies being taken from their mother’s arms in 2016, our kinship structures not being recognised, and Aboriginal peoples continue to be thrown in prison at alarming rates.
The Australia we see is one where our sacred sites are disrespected or destroyed, our cultural objects are not protected and can be sold at auction, the Condamine River is now able to be set on fire defying nature, defying God’s creation, defying what 60,000 years of Dreaming stories has told us. The Australia we live in doesn’t respect us as the world’s oldest living culture, we continue to suffer racism, and the true history of this country continues to be unknown, unacknowledged, unwilling to be engaged with when we think of stolen land, stolen wages, and stolen generations.
So what then is the Australia we want to see? Common Grace’s Aboriginal spokesperson Brooke Prentis describes it as, “An Australia that is built on truth, justice, love, and hope.”
It goes beyond the words Reconciliation and Recognition, which at times have become meaningless. It is grounded in the word Treaty or Treaties – an opportunity where we, as equal partners, get to sit down and yarn with each other to work out how we tell the truth, and to work out how we bring about justice for First Peoples, and to work out how our relationship will work in the years ahead – how we learn to love one another as brothers and sisters. It is truth, justice, and love that will bring hope for the future.
Our land, our waters, and our peoples – all our peoples that now make up the diverse cultural tapestry of the land we now call Australia – need healing. 2 Chronicles 7:14 calls us there for action now, “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.”
We long to see respectful and honouring relationships built with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with our Government’s policies built upon honest, authentic, and face-to-face consultation with all the diverse voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Leaders.
With this in mind we ask the Government to:
- Engage in discussions about Sovereignty and Treaties, with the view to funding Treaty-making processes so that we are no longer the only Commonwealth nation without a Treaty with its First Peoples.
- Uphold all UN declarations, but in particular the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and especially in matters regarding, potential and actual, forced removal from homelands and protection of sacred sites.
- Rescind and cease all activities that restrict the liberties of Aboriginal peoples due to the effects of the implementation of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response of 2007, and any subsequent related legislation such as the Stronger Futures legislation and policy.
- Reject any proposal to dump nuclear waste on land that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a connection to including the Adnyamathanha peoples.
- Adequately resource initiatives and take action to ‘Close the Gap’.
- Establish, fund, and promote initiatives that bring an end to racism experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Invest in and establish culturally appropriate facilities, and whenever possible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled services, around drug and alcohol rehabilitation and domestic and family violence.
- Commit to reducing the high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration by reviewing and implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report.
- Review and implement the recommendations of the Bringing them Home Report and a Royal Commission into the ‘New Stolen Generation’.
- Continue the report into the effectiveness of current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention programs.
- Implement federal protections that ensure all states take seriously the provision of services to remote rural communities, and consult properly where there are any cuts to water, power or garbage services to ensure human rights are protected.
For our non-Aboriginal brothers and sisters in Christ who would like to become more acquainted with the reality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, we’ve gathered together some key statistics that really tell a sad story below, as well as some further links.
Please join us as we pray and ask God to help us all turn these statistics around.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family violence.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 13 times more likely to be imprisoned.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander juveniles are 24 times more likely to be imprisoned.
- On June 30 1997, there were 2,785 Aboriginal children in “out of home care”, and in 2016 there are now more than 15,000, an increase of 400%.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 14 times more likely to be homeless, with 1 in 20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples being homeless on Census night 2011.
- Nearly 30% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples regularly experience racism.
Links to Key Statistics: