Day Of Mourning

Day Of Mourning

I am proud that the Uniting Church in Australia established the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress to provide a safe space for First Peoples to express and grow in faith. I am proud that the Church advocates for equality and justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. I am proud we strongly supported the recent Referendum on The Voice. I am proud that so many congregations incorporate an Acknowledgement of Country in their Sunday Worship Services.

None of this makes up for the cruelty and atrocities inflicted on First Peoples over the last 240+ years but we are genuinely seeking to do the right thing now. The Apology given by Prime Minister Rudd was, in my view, the best speech ever given in the Australian Parliament. The Apology for the Stolen Generation and those offered by the Churches have all recognised past mistakes and a commitment to do better. This starts with mutual respect and a genuine seeking to understand and accommodate language, culture and spirituality wherever possible.

Even though the Referendum was rejected that in no way lessens our commitment to implement the Statement From the Heart formulated at Uluṟu.

We are continuing to learn from these  First Peoples so much about land care, water care, weather patterns, medicinal remedies, spirituality and so many other things. We are finally realising that we have much 5o learn from them.

Notwithstanding all these atrocities inflicted upon them, the coming of the Europeans also brought considerable advantages. Different methods of agriculture and food production, medicine, and other technology has benefitted both first and second peoples. While I understand that many regard 26th January as “invasion Day” we ought to acknowledge that good things arrived here as well.

That is why I’d like to have a mature discussion as to whether the Sunday closest to Australia Day is the best day to have the Day of Mourning.

I am in no way suggesting such a day should not be held but I’d like to have a discussion as to whether there was a more appropriate day on which to hold it. The Sunday of NAIDOC Week comes to mind. If Australia Day was moved to another day, then this week might still be appropriate. I have always been of the view that Australia Day could equally be celebrated on 27th May. This was the day, in 1967, when Australia voted to include First People’s in the census and give them the vote. It was the first major step towards equality.

My reason for seeking to initiate this discussion is that in the minds of some, rather than promote equality,  it may have the opposite effect of being divisive. No-one wants that.

Rev. Neil Ericksson


2 thoughts on “Day Of Mourning”

  1. Stephen Nicholson

    An interesting idea to change the date for the Day of Mourning from the Sunday prior to Australia Day. I’m neither for nor against that at present.

    However, I don’t think NAIDOC Week is appropriate:
    “NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories and participate in celebrations of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth.”
    This is a time for Indigenous Australians to celebrate, and for the rest of us to affirm them. Not a time for mourning.

    Whereas Day of Mourning seems to fit better within National Reconciliation Week:
    “… a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.”

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