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This Reconciliation Week, Mariela Powell Thomas has written a powerful reflection about the horrific reality of Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and Anne Annear leads us in prayer.

Reconciliation as Truth and Action

Stolen Lives- Closing the Gap: Health

Rhanee Tsetsakos is an Adnyamathanha woman currently living in Adelaide. She is an Aboriginal Christian Leader and member of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC). Rhannee’s ministries centre on working with youth and young adults and her ministries model connecting with other young adults in “genuine relationships in order to seek God together, to know their own stories and be part of each other’s stories.” Rhanee reflects on the Aboriginal health crisis, which is her daily reality as she is currently on dialysis and the Kidney Transplant waiting list.

This year’s theme for Reconciliation Week “Grounded in truth: Walking together in courage” has made me reflect on my own personal journey in life and the many challenges that I and the people around me have faced together. In the spirit of Reconciliation I am always open hearted and open minded when I meet new people, especially people from different cultural backgrounds to my own.

This has meant that I have been able to connect with a vast array of colourful characters which has in turn made my life more colourful. Through the sharing of my personal health journey with others I have formed bonds and connections through inspiring others. My zest and love for life rubs off on those who I share with and in turn their energy gives me energy to live a more full and vibrant life.

Despite having Renal Failure and being on Dialysis three days a week I live a pretty blessed and rich life. I could be one of those people that continually feels sorry for myself and blame the world for my circumstances but then I wonder, where I would be if I were like that? I have taken on the mindset to always hope for and think of the best outcomes. I have found that thinking this way has helped me to overcome many of life’s challenges. My life has been richly blessed with a loving family, an amazingly kind and caring husband and an abundance of supportive friends that I consider to be family.

However, life isn’t always all rainbows and butterflies and there are times when we hit brick walls.

These are the times when life really slaps us in the face with the reality of the truth. One experience was when I was co-leading the #Jan26 #ChangeTheHeart service in Adelaide with my sister Brooke Prentis. I read out the statistics around Stolen Lives, highlighting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health statistics. The difficulty in reading those heartbreaking stats out loud was actually knowing that I was talking about myself and my stolen life. Sometimes the only way to get through a situation is to pretend that it is not happening, but then in not dealing with it we are faced with a more negative impact it our lives.

A special relationship I want to highlight is the one John and I share with our brother and sister Jesse and Chelsea Size, who have been doing life with us since moving to Port Augusta a few years ago. Their love and care towards us, have enriched our lives greatly, and the support they have given us, in not only my health journey, but John’s journey with immigration and gaining his permanent residency here in Australia, has allowed us to be together, support each other, and strengthen our relationship. The beauty of how our lives have intertwined and connected us all on a deeper level, is proof that the key ingredient to Reconciliation is love and a deep desire to care for one another. This ensures that we are able to experience a fullness of life, one where we can all flourish and thrive.

My health journey still continues and I am currently in the process of getting worked up for another transplant. My husband is putting his life on the line and donating his kidney in the ‘Kidney Paired Exchange’ program so that I am able to get the best matched kidney transplant in order to live a higher quality of life into the future.

There are many ways that you can support people like me who are dealing with kidney disease and failure. One option is donating your kidney, another option is donating funds towards dialysis treatment. Sometimes all we need is someone to be there with us as we deal with the challenges of living with this disease. Please continue to pray for our Aboriginal brothers and sisters who are living with Renal Disease and the many challenges they’re facing with being on dialysis.

 

Prayer

by Dr Malieka Selwyn

Dr Maleika Selwyn is a GP who is passionate about working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. She lives and works in NSW on the land of the Dharuk and Wiradjuri nations.

 

Dear Lord,

We thank you for this land of Australia. We thank you for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters who you placed as the original custodians and stewards of this precious land. We pray that as we begin to acknowledge the truth of past hurt it is the start of a deep healing in our nation.

We pray that the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Non-Indigenous Australians will be closed. We pray for all health professionals - doctors, nurses, carers, dentists, administration staff in health facilities - may these health professionals be filled with compassion, understanding, and love as they see their frontline role in helping to Close the Gap. We pray Australia will Close The Gap!

We pray for greater cultural understanding and improved access to health services. Show us how we can each, individually, be a part of making this a reality. Teach us how to love each other and journey together in this process of reconciliation and true friendship.

We pray for those that feel hopeless that they will find their hope in You. We pray especially for the families and communities of the 35 Aboriginal people who have committed suicide this year alone and we lament this figure is added to weekly. We pray that you fill the families and communities each with a peace that surpasses all human understanding; that they will know that they are not alone in their grief, that You walk beside them and there is a community around them that loves, supports and cares for them.

We thank you for each of our Aboriginal Elders who have journeyed with their communities through much sickness, hardship, and grief. Fill them afresh with your strength and wisdom and courage.

As we pray for these Stolen Lives, we pray that we may be the agents of your healing, in Jesus name.

 

Truth in Action 

Truth starts with knowledge. What would Australia look like, sound like, act like if every person living in these lands and waters understood what “Australia” looked like before colonisation and if we had a shared understanding of the true history of 1788? What would the Australian church look like, sound like, act like, if every Christian knew about God’s appointed custodians and God’s appointed boundaries and viewed colonisation through the Creator’s eyes - the shooting and disregard of peoples made in His image, the destruction of the environment, the commencement of deforestation in Australia.

Will you take action to see how we could change the view of Australia and Australian Christians?

Action

Write a letter to the Minister for Health in your state. We have drafted a template letter that you can find here.

 

This post is part of our National Reconciliation Week 2019 series where we are together discovering Reconciliation as Truth and Action.  

Reconciliation Week 2019