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President's reflection

Next week we have ‘Australia Day’. This day which marks the arrival of the First Fleet is ‘Invasion Day’ for many Australians. While some celebrate, many mourn.   

The debate over this day is polarising and complex. The arrival of convicts, military and settlers was the beginning of the active dispossession of land from Australia’s Indigenous people.  

The nation called Australia is based on land that has not been ceded, The land will always be Aboriginal land. This reality is painful for Australia’s First People and unsettling for all of us. It leads, at times, to acrimony and polarisation.  

The moving and rich 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart includes these words: 

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown. 

And it goes on to say: 

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.

And concludes: 

We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

Can we say ‘Yes’ to this invitation and walk together?  

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:26 has some guidance for us, when he writes: If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it. There are seasons for both experiences. However, one’s desire to celebrate must not ignore the reality of another’s suffering.  

In whatever way we mark January 26, let us sensitive to the painful reality of Australia’s First People and commit ourselves to walking with them in a movement of the Australian people for a better future. Maybe, on January 26 we can read aloud the Uluru Statement from the Heart  and pray for our better future. 

Rev. John Gilmore

NCCA President

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