Journey of education and learning

Bianca Manning calls us to go on a journey of education and learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice.

After the 26th January every year, I feel like I can almost take a breath again. 

For me, like many Aboriginal people, it’s a long month of anticipating the saga of opinions and Facebook posts, and the mixed emotions of the day - mourning, grief, frustration, rejoicing in the survival and resilience of my people, and encouragement in the increasing support from non-Indigenous Australians. Now things feel calmer, but I know that my breath will be sucked out again as the impacts of trauma and a history of injustice meet us in the present - another youth suicide? Aboriginal death in custody? Sacred site destroyed? Lord help us. 

This year, thousands of us tuned in together to follow Aunty Jean Phillips’ call to prayer to #ChangeTheHeart of Australia. It was a powerful service and a defining spiritual moment. We have had amazing feedback from the churches, small groups and individuals who participated. As we continue journeying through this year, will you heed the call from Brooke Prentis to “stay awake”?

I continually hear non-Indigenous people asking, what do I do next? How can I help? This is articulated well in a recent Facebook post by Common Grace board member Jonathan Taylor: 

January 26 is behind us and many of us move on with our lives. For those of you who did not celebrate and were moved by the truth telling from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, my questions are as follows:

What will you do now?

What can you do now?

There is a lot of pain brought to the forefront around January 26 each year, but that pain does not go away for the other 364 days of the year. How can you listen, learn and act (in that order!)?

As we all know, education (along with relationship) is a key to unlocking understanding, compassion and justice. Education about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and cultures in schools, higher education and general society falls far short of what needs to be shared. I’m only 26, and I remember in high school my teacher forming a debate in history class about whether genocide occurred in this country. It was me against the whole class, including the teacher. He actually came up to me later that week apologising, as he’d done some research and decided that I was right. I’m sure many of you have stories of truths you were not taught at school, and untruths that you were. 

In my exploration of the previous educational resources and action steps shared by Common Grace over the past several years, I’ve found an array of theological, church and prayer resources, sermons, petitions, reflections by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Leaders, template letters to political leaders, and even children’s resources. So many important educational resources and calls to action to revisit. 

So over these last weeks, we’ve shared resources on social media and we've put them all together into a PDF document here for you to draw on as you ask - what do I do next?




Bianca Manning is a Gomeroi woman and Common Grace’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice Coordinator.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice