Faith in action
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Last week announcements were made by the Federal Government on Closing the Gap and a redress scheme for living members of the Stolen Generations of the NT, ACT and Jervis Bay Territory. 12 months ago new Closing the Gap measures and a new implementation plan under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap was released.
Though the new direction of the Closing the Gap initiative, with a shifted focus in the last year on community control, genuine partnership, shared decision making, and greater accountability, is a positive step, we pray for real action, commitment and change to come.
Brooke Prentis, CEO of Common Grace and Aboriginal Christian Leader says the following:
Whilst I welcome the announcement and I pray the payment to the Stolen Generations of the NT, ACT, and Jervis Bay Territory, does bring healing, it is hard to reconcile that this announcement came on the same day that 12 months after new closing the gap targets were released, Australia is still not on track to met the targets on out of home care for children as well as not on track for suicides, life expectancy, and adult imprisonment.
It is important to understand the detail of such announcements and listen to the responses of Aboriginal peoples. This payment is only to the Stolen Generations of the NT, ACT, and Jervis Bay, and has many restrictions like that you must be still living, and so we grieve with the families of Stolen Generations who have since passed and will receive no compensation. It should also be noted that the announcements lacked detail on timeframes of implementation, and States such as Queensland still have never had any compensation for the Stolen Generations.
I ask people to look beyond the headlines, as former Prime Minister Paul Keating said to non-Indigenous Australians in his 1992 Redfern speech, ‘imagine these things being done to you’, and I add, what would you want the compensation to be, what would bring healing for you, what would justice look like? If you look hard enough, I believe you could not only imagine, but expect so much more.
We lament the lack of action on implementing the 30 year old recommendations of Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and we grieve the lack of closing the gap including the life expectancy gap.
I implore the Australian Church to re-read and re-engage with the 1997 Bringing Them Home Report and implement the recommendations which were specifically written to and addressed to churches in Australia – some of these have gone unimplemented.
I pray people will walk alongside us, and take action to see true justice and true Reconciliation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
For more reporting read the recent news article from Sight magazine featuring Brooke Prentis and Bishop Chris McLeod here: https://www.sightmagazine.com.au/news/21228-australian-christian-leaders-say-government-move-to-address-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-disadvantage-including-reparations-doesn-t-go-far-enough
To look beyond the headlines:
This National Reconciliation Week, 27 May - 3 June, the Common Grace movement will be exploring Reconciliation as Love in Action. We invite you and your church or faith community to put your love into action with the NRW Church Resources Toolkit.Read more
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.
After Closing the Gap announcements last week, Brooke Prentis calls for real action, commitment and change to come.
Today is National Close the Gap Day. The lack of Closing the Gap is an ongoing injustice. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to die too young and too often from this injustice, and through these gaps we realise the inequality in these lands now called Australia.
Bianca Manning calls us to go on a journey of education and learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice.