Uniting Church Minister, Rev. Ivan Roberts, received a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia for his service to the Church and to the Myall Creek Memorial on January 26. He is a resource worker with Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC).
Rev. Roberts told Insights that making the Australia Day 2018 Honours List and receiving the award came out of left field.
“I was a little taken aback. I’ve just seen the work that I do very much a part of the natural areas of interest for the Uniting Church and a part of my calling,” said Rev. Roberts.
“Our work in interfaith and cross cultural ministry is just what we do and who we are.
“As a Uniting Church Minister I appreciate the opportunity to be involved in activities such as the Myall Creek Memorial and work alongside people like Rev. John Brown and Aboriginal Elder Aunty Sue Blacklock.”
Aunty Sue Blacklock was appointed to the Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in 2016 for her significant service to the Aboriginal community and Myall Creek Memorial initiative which she led.
“Australia Day is a timely reminder to not only give thanks for the country in which we live, but also acknowledge the traumatic impact dispossession of land and culture has had on our First Peoples and support them in their struggle to be recognised as a sovereign people,” said Rev. Roberts.
In 1998, the Uniting Church held a conference on reconciliation at Myall Creek, which resulted in the creation of the Memorial near Inverell in 2000, in an act of reconciliation and in acknowledgment of the truth of our shared history. The Memorial commemorates the unprovoked massacre of twenty –eight Wirrayaraay women, children and old men by a group of stockmen at Myall Creek Station in 1838.
Rev. Roberts reflected how fellow Memorial committee member, Graeme Cordiner, suggested that “the road to Australia’s future travels through its past.”
He hopes that the Uniting Church will continue to engage in similar important reconciliation initiatives as part of the wider community.
This year on January 26, Rev. Roberts took part in the ‘Justice through Treaty March’ in commemoration of the first March for Justice, Freedom and Hope in 1988. Over 40,000 people attended the 1988 march that marked the Bicentenary of the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney 1788. The late Rev. Charles Harris who was also the founder of the UAICC, helped organise the first March for justice.
Rev. Harris’ widow Aunty Dorothy Gordon-Harris attended march along with Rev. Roberts and thousands more in Sydney. Aunty Dorothy was the first ordained Aboriginal woman in the Uniting Church in Australia and is a State Elder and co-founder of the UAICC. Read more about Aunty Dorothy’s life and ministry here.
Follow updates of the ‘Justice through Treaty March’ via their official Facebook event.
Reporting by Lisa Sampson and Melissa Stewart.