The Walking Together Action Plan 2021-2023
In August 2021 the Synod of NSW and the ACT approved the inaugural Walking Together Action Plan 2021-2023 (“The WTAP”). The purpose of the WTAP is to provide a range of practical actions that can be taken across the Synod to support and continue to build relationships with Australia’s First Peoples.
If you haven’t had a chance to check it out you can view a copy of the WTAP here.
Of course, all plans are only as good as the actions they inspire… so see below some of the things we have been doing to bring to life our commitments in the WTA.
First Nations Resources
The Synod has developed a First Nations Resources (FNR) page on the Synod website, that can be accessed via this link.
The FNR page contains links to a range of resources, including the WTAP, the Covenant Statement, other Assembly and Synod resources relating to First Peoples, a link to Supply Nation (to find Aboriginal businesses for procurement purposes), and information about how to obtain a UAICC Covenant Banner for your Church or workplace.
The resources available on the FNR page are updated regularly. If you find any electronic resources that would be useful to include on the FNR page please email the relevant link to: NathanT@nswact.uca.org.au
Promoting Walking Together, the 1994 Covenant Statement, and related resources
Over the last 18 months the Synod’s Manager, First Peoples Strategy and Engagement (FPS&E), Nathan Tyson has met with many Congregations, Presbyteries and groups across our Synod, and has spoken at a number of forums such as the Healthy Church Expo, the Voice, Treaty, Truth forum hosted by Social Justice Committee of The Hunter Presbytery of the Uniting Church, and The Grail Australia women’s network. A number of these presentations are available to view online.
Nathan has preached at several Sunday services, including at St Stephen’s, Pitt St, Bowral, Berry/Kiama, Willoughby, and Eastwood, encouraging congregations to reflect on the Good Samaritan story and what it means to “love your neighbour” in the Australian context of the colonisation of First Peoples and the colonial legacies that continue to impact First Peoples today.
Nathan spoke at the Faith and Politics forum hosted by UME and the Uniting Earth Climate Action Network, and has given presentations to various groups including our Uniting Venues staff, and the Board and staff of Uniting Financial Services.
Nathan has also run an education session for Phase 2 Ministry Candidates at Uniting Theological College, and will be running two more sessions with these candidates on topics such as Covenanting and First Peoples’ history and perspectives. Similar sessions with Phase 3 Ministry Candidates are planned to commence in the near future.
If you would like to organise for the Synod’s Manager, First Peoples Strategy and Engagement to speak with your congregation or group please contact Nathan on 0474 908 460, or via email: NathanT@nswact.uca.org.au
Strengthening support for UAICC Ministry Centres
Through a collaborative process, the Synod has developed an MOU between the Synod, the Macquarie Darling Presbytery, the NSW UAICC Task Group and the UAICC Ministry Centres in Wellington, Condobolin and Broken Hill. The MOU clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the parties, with the aim of ensuring the UAICC Ministry Centres receive appropriate ongoing support from the Synod, the Presbytery and the NSW UAICC Task Group (currently operating in lieu of the NSW/ACT UAICC Regional Committee).
A Guide to Aboriginal Community Engagement and Developing Trust Relationships
A Guide to Aboriginal Community Engagement and Developing Trust Relationships has been produced and is available via the First Nations Resources website, or this link.
First Peoples Theological Study Scholarship
The Synod has developed and launched the First Peoples Theological Study Scholarship. The Manager, FPS&E has also been appointed to Uniting Mission and Education’s Scholarships Committee. Details about the Scholarship can be found here.
The First Peoples Theological Study Scholarship was advertised in the Koori Mail (both hard copy and on-line versions) in early 2022, and via other relevant networks, for applications to study in 2022. As yet the Scholarships Committee has not received any applications for the Scholarship, so please promote the Scholarship through your networks.
The Statement from the Heart (Voice, Treaty, Truth)
The Synod continues to promote the aspirations of the Statement from the Heart – namely a Constitutionally enshrined and effective First Peoples’ Voice to Parliament, the development of a Treaty (and/or Treaties) between the Australian Government and First Nations, and the establishment of a Makarrata (or “Truth Telling”) Commission.
The Synod acknowledges that there are varying views on these aspirations across First Nations communities, and that ultimately First Nations peoples have the right to self-determine their own futures.
The Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania has developed a Study Guide on the Statement from the Heart, which is available here.
The Anglican Board of Mission has also produced a Statement from the Heart study resource, available here.
Aboriginal Cultural Competency training modules for all Synod employees
The Synod provides three Aboriginal Cultural Competency on-line modules via the Learning Management System (LMS). The modules, produced by Aboriginal owned company Corporate Culcha, are an engaging mix of animation, historic footage and graphics. All Synod employees are required to complete these modules to ensure they have a foundational understanding of Aboriginal histories, issues and perspectives. Synod employees can access the modules here.
2022 Survival Day March in Sydney
As part of our advocacy for justice for First Peoples, about 30 people from Uniting Church congregations and Uniting showed our solidarity with First Peoples through attending the Survival Day rally and march from Town Hall to Victoria Park (Broadway) in Sydney on 26 January 2022. This was a great turnout given COVID understandably kept many from being able to attend. Hopefully this participation will be an annual event and we will see greater numbers in attendance in 2023.
First Peoples Network (UnitingCare Australia)
UnitingCare Australia is providing Secretariate support for the First Peoples Network, including First Peoples representatives from the UAICC, Uniting Church Synods, and Uniting Agencies across Australia. The First Peoples Network will be a source of advice for Uniting Care Australia (and potentially other Church agencies) in relation to First Peoples’ activities and initiatives, for example national advocacy priorities. The Synod’s Manager (FPS&E) is a member of the Working Group of the First Peoples Network.
Nathan Tyson is Manager, First Peoples Strategy and Engagement for the NSW and ACT Synod