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Monday, 20 September 2010 00:00

World Council of Churches Living Letters Visit

The visit has been a profound experience for all team members.  Some expressed shock at what they saw and heard saying, “we did not realise this was still happening in Australia”.  Particular concern was expressed about the discrimination, oppression and racism observed during the visit.

As Indigenous and marginalised peoples themselves, the team were able to connect the stories and experiences they heard about on-going colonisation and systemic racism in Australia with their own experiences.  Just as Jesus challenged the lawmakers and Pharisees of his time the Living Letters team challenged “these unjust and racist structures and systems and question the Australian lawmakers about how they conduct their business…”

The team particularly commented on the failure of the Federal Government to “reset the relationship” with Aboriginal people as it had promised to do.  In fact, the team heard in every place that life has not improved under the Intervention, but rather it has deteriorated.  There is despair, anguish and confusion in communities.

There is, however, strong resistance shown in communities.  The team observed that the “oldest living, surviving culture in the entire world” has not been crushed”.  They further commented that, “The will of the people to stand up for their rights has heartened us and inspired us to action”.

Each member of the The Living Letters team committed to speak out and tell the world about what they had seen and heard in Australia.  They also urged the National Council of Churches in Australia and the World Council of Churches to take action to support the rights of Aboriginal peoples.  Their final message was, “To our Indigenous Brothers and Sisters we say, ‘your fight is our fight’ ”.

NATSIEC would like to express its sincere thanks to each member of the Living Letters team for their dedication and enthusiasm during the visit and for listening to Aboriginal people with an open mind and an open heart.  We look forward to receiving your full report in due course.


To arrange media comment: Graeme Mundine NATSIEC 0419 238 788

The full Living Letters NATSIEC and WCC statements are attached, and also available at www.ncca.org.au/natsiec