What does the Covenant mean to you?

By Mark Waters

Posted in Faith

The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) - endorsed by Australia in 2009 - asserts that self-determination and decision-making over land use, education and cultural and spiritual practices are fundamental human rights for the world’s Indigenous peoples. In SA, Aboriginal leaders have reminded me that the church was part of a paternalistic system that were passively (and sometimes actively) complicit in taking children from their mothers, denying language and culture and making decisions for Aboriginal peoples.

Missions, often set up for the best of intent, did not always serve the interests of Aboriginal peoples. They perpetuated the dominance of the colonising culture without upholding the right of self-determinations. This Sunday, 26th May, 2024, is the 27th Sorry Day recognising the ‘Bringing Them Home’ report into Stolen Generations.

We then lead into National Reconciliation Week 2024 on Monday May 27th, 2024, with the theme ‘Now More Than Ever.’ Sorry always comes before reconciliation; you cannot have one without the other if we are to accept where we have come from in our combined histories. To me the Covenant is a mature, mutual statement, written and adopted before its time thirty years ago in 1994. It lays out how we as the Uniting Church in Australia commit to working with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress to keep making amends; continue to set the record straight; and

respect the right of self-determination in all of our decision-making. I continue to be inspired by the words of the Covenant and commit to continue to forge relationships with First Nations Christians as we live out its direction.  

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