Healing and Hope

By Mark Waters

Posted in News

Looking back: Looking forward. Self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has an element of looking back and addressing past injustices, dispossession and alienation. The call for truth telling in the Uluru Statement from the Heart is the chance to heal past hurts. A supportive structure that helps people go through this healing journey is very important if trauma, loss and grief is going to be dealt with effectively as part of the healing process.

In his book ‘Remote as Ever,’ Dr David Scrimgeour writes:

‘The struggle for self-determination and autonomy is worthy of support from a social justice and human rights perspective but also because it is a powerful contributor to improved health. In the words of the public health expert Sir Michael Marmot, “… autonomy is closely linked with self-esteem and the earning of respect. Low levels of autonomy and low self-esteem are likely to be related to worse health.’’ (p212)

Bishop Chris McLeod, Dean of St Peter’s Cathedral and the National Aboriginal Bishop of the Anglican Church in Australia in promoting their study ‘A Voice in the Wilderness: Listening to the Statement from the Heart’ says ‘I encourage all … to stop listen and pray that our ears may be opened and our nation’s broken heart healed.’

Our belief in Christ gives us the hope that we are meant to be reconciled to God and to each other. This hope is reflected in the ability for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to provide advice to Government on matters that affect them. Rev Ken Sumner wrote in the August / September 2023 New Times that ‘The Voice to Parliament for me is … My time, my moment to take control of my future.’ This is a message of hope. He offers hope in being able to see change by having ‘… the ability to speak into the issues ... such as education, health, employment, housing and the many social issues that we experience as First Peoples.’

Australians pride themselves on fairness. We have the hope that the differences experienced by some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be systematically addressed. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recognition in the Australian Constitution and their involvement in decisions around such programs that affect them will help to address some of the inequalities experienced by individuals, families and communities.

In supporting a Yes vote in the upcoming Referendum, the Uniting Church in South Australia sends a positive message of healing and hope. It comes from the heart and is embedded within the Uluru Statement from the Heart. This is a journey from 1967 where Aboriginal peoples were counted, to Uluru in 2017 where they sought to be heard, to 2023 where a change to the Australian Constitution is being considered. ‘We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.’ (Uluru Statement from the Heart)

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