The Synod has agreed to a proposal to listen to the 2017 Statement from the Heart made at Uluru and commends the statement to congregations, presbyteries, and agencies.
It urges the NSW and ACT governments to “establish a process of agreement making between those governments and First Nations, and provide a means for truth-telling about the history of Australia’s first peoples.”
It also urges the Federal Government to implement a First Nations Voice to Parliament, enshrined in the constitution so as to “empower First Peoples to have a greater say in policy and legislation which governs their affairs.”
Rev. Dr Amelia Koh Butler and Rev. Dr John Squires spoke to the proposal.
Rev. Dr Squires said that the proposal reflected the church’s commitment to telling the truth.
“This truth is confronting and challenging,” he said.
“In the revised Preamble which was adopted a decade ago by the Uniting Church, we sought to tell the truth.”
“Drawing on the voices of Indigenous peoples, we have named the settlement of this continent as a colonising movement, generated by foreign imperialism, manifesting in violent invasion and genocidal massacres, spread from north to south, from east to west, of this continent.”
“We must continue to prioritise this commitment to tell the truth.”
Rev. Dr Koh Butler said that their experience working alongside Congress had led both of them to want to introduce the proposal to Synod, which took place during NAIDOC week. She noted that Congress had consulted on the wording of the proposal.
Hayden Charles wanted to speak to the proposal, but needed to leave the Synod meeting early. In a statement he wrote for Rev. Dr Koh Butler to read out, he endorsed the proposal and flagged his support.
“I as a young aboriginal male feel it’s important to work together”.
The session also acknowledged Uniting NSW.ACT’s Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan, which you can read here.
The proposal passed by consensus.
The final day of the 2019 Synod meeting is currently underway .
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor