David (38), Jane (35), Emily (8) and Jack (5) Thomas all walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge for reconciliation.
Why did you Walk for Reconciliation in the year 2000?
David and I were so keen to be a part of the grassroots movement to right the injustices experienced by Indigenous people, and also to begin a new era of acknowledgement, listening, and equality. It was an exciting and hope filled time. We had, as a family, planted hands in the sea of hands for reconciliation (at our local Wollongong Botanic Gardens). I had joined a reconciliation circle run by wonderful Betty Little at the local Women’s Centre, and I was a member of Australians for Reconciliation.
I really don’t understand what happened to stymie what was a tidal wave of determination, action, and good will by the Australian people for the embrace of truth, change and a shared walking into the next millennium.
I am currently not involved in any formal action for reconciliation, apart from my connection with Common Grace. I have attended Sorry Day services, and in fact organised Sorry Day observances at church over the years. I learn as much as possible from the indigenous people with whom I work and worship.
What has changed in the last 20 years and what are you presently doing for Reconciliation?
The great and good change over the past 20 years has been the raised profile of Indigenous people across all sectors of our society. Twenty years ago Indigenous voice to the broader community was limited to very well respected elders such as Patrick and Mick Dodson, Lowitja O’Donoghue, Noel Pearson, and Marcia Langton. Now First Nations Peoples are far more represented, visible, and acknowledged across the media, in local communities, schools, the arts, churches, politics, taking roles of leadership on behalf of us all. I am hopeful that this means the terrible societal disadvantage of Indigenous people is also slowly dissipating. The cessation of climbing Uluru is a sign of hope.
What is your vision of Reconciliation for the next 20 years?
My dream for the next 20 years is the acceptance and ratification of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, accompanied by broad leadership exercised across the nation by Indigenous people. In my most daring moments, I dream that the church will be led and fed by many Indigenous people who will lead us into integrating a spirituality of place and country with our understanding of the grace and presence of God and our identity as humans.
A shout out to Pastor Ray Minnecon who has been such an important voice for truth in the church from that time until the present. What incredible stamina and grace!!!!