24 May, 2013

A Week for Reflection Concerning our First People.

National Sorry day,  Reconciliation Week and Mabo Day  mark this week - a very important week for reflection with three key calendar events commemorating the stolen generation, reconciliation and the Mabo decision in the High Court of Australia.

“National Sorry Day (May 26th) is an important time to reflect on the past injustices inflicted on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through their forced removal and care. 

National Reconciliation Week follows this day.  The event is an opportunity to promote and share our culture and history and strengthen relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The third important calendar event this week is Mabo Day [June 3rd]. It celebrates the tireless efforts of Eddie Mabo in seeking recognition of the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the land.”  (http://www.qcoss.org.au/national-sorry-day-reconciliation-week-and-mabo-day)

These significant days can be like ‘pin pricks’ that  jab us, that wake us up to the fact that there were people here 60.000 years before the arrival of the white fella. These people are the oldest continuing peoples in human history, with whom we need to truly ‘reconcile’.  

Much has happened in just over 200 years since European settlement that has impacted the lifestyle, languages, health and development of indigenous cultures in Australia. We are able to access this knowledge more easily and not all looks well! 

In my own research and contacts I am greatly challenged by the continuing statistics and stories that confront us. Headlines in articles from The Age such as: “Grog hits indigenous babies - intellectual disabilities are at 50% in Kimberley region”, “Study reveals racial abuse of Aboriginal Victorians”, “Big task to reduce indigenous jail rate - prisoners in Victoria account for 6.6 of prison population, despite Aborigines being 0.7% of Victoria’s population”,  continue to appear.

Equally I am encouraged by the efforts of so many people and organisations who work hard to reduce discrimination and disadvantage – for example: “A better voice for indigenous Australians [The Age Feb 4th 2013] writes about standards of representative fairness in parliament. 

Identification with indigenous peoples – our ‘first’ people - is critical to our identity and to the outworking of social justice across this nation. I believe that, as each of us learn more about the true history, challenges and possibilities ahead, then we will regain more of the ‘soul’ that is part of us. 

Our Melbourne Central Social Justice coordinator says it well: 

Marion Weymouth
Territorial Social Justice Secretary

10 May, 2013

Divisional Social Justice Coordinators - Part Three

Melbourne Central Division
Name: Craig Farrell

Appointments: Divisional Youth & Candidates Secretary MCD & Social Justice Co-ordinator MCD

Favourite place to holiday: Nepal

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? My superpower would be to make everyone stop and realise the potential they have to create in change in the world. In the ordinary ways and in ways that seek to confront  and agitate for social justice, creatively and thoughtfully. 

Why do you think social justice is important? Social Justice is imperative to the Gospel of Jesus. Followers of Jesus are active participants in caring for and showing hospitality to our neighbours, which even extends towards the stranger. Essentially the importance of social justice is such that without it we ignore truth and fail to acknowledge the rights of those whose human rights have been silenced. 

What injustices do you see in the area of Melbourne Central? There are many areas of injustice evident in inner Melbourne however the support of asylum seekers and refugees in our local community is an increasing issue. The majority of asylum seekers find it very difficult to establish themselves in the community. It is an issue not only nationally but locally, our community support, crisis and asylum seeker support service have an increasing number of asylum seekers present for material aid assistance. It is clear that there are not adequate supports in place to assist this vulnerable group of people.  

What is an injustice that is particularly close to your heart? Again there are many social justice issues close to my heart. In particular are the human rights of Indigenous australians in relation to land rights, education, and health, just to name a few. We require open minds and hearts in order to see reconciliation realised in our communities - we can learn from each other a great deal if make the commitment to listen, celebrate, and be active participants in making reconciliation a reality.  

Contact: (03) 9353 5200 

Tasmania Division 

Name: Heather Jenkins

Appointments: Divisional Mission Resources Secretary, Divisional Candidates Secretary.

Favourite place to holiday: Nowhere in particular....just a peaceful place with a great view, a cup of coffee and a friend to share it with.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? Teleportation - I could be anywhere I wanted to be at any time!

Why do you think social justice is important?  Social justice is about treating people equally and fairly, recognizing their  intrinsic value;  giving opportunity for the growth and development of  potential and removing barriers that inhibit engagement in community life. Jesus did all this perfectly.  He taught and lived out  treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves. He showed such respect for those who were on the edge of the society of his day. If we could just do this alone, our world would be a more hope-filled place. 

What injustices do you see in the area of the Tasmania Division? Poverty, homelessness, domestic violence. 

 What is an injustice that is particularly close to your heart? I am concerned for those who have little or no voice....be that through lack of literacy skills, personal capacity, education  or prejudice based on gender, income, race.  The Salvation Army has an important role to play as advocate, ' the voice crying in the wilderness' .