Monday 9 February 2009
The first anniversary of the apology to members of the Stolen Generations by the Federal Parliament is an opportunity for Australians to reflect on our nation’s journey of healing and to commit to action which advances the cause of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, according to Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission.
The Commission is working with the Archdiocesan Murri Ministry Team to organize a celebration of the anniversary on Friday 13 February.
Brisbane community elders, members of the Stolen Generations, representatives of a number of Catholic schools and Bishop Brian Finnegan have been invited to participate in the celebration.
The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the parliamentary apology was an immensely significant moment in the reconciliation process in Australia.
“The apology was greeted so passionately by many Indigenous Australians because it officially acknowledged their history,” Mr Arndt said.
“Acknowledging the mistreatment and the enormous hurt and damaging effects caused by it allows healing to begin,” he said.
“We can only acknowledge that history if we know about it,” he said.
“That is why it is so important that all Australians make a commitment to learn about the history and culture of the first peoples of our land,” he said.
“The Bringing Them Home report recommended education in the community, schools and within various professions about the Stolen Generations story,” he said.
“More needs to be done in this area, not so that people can feel guilty, but so that we all understand why there is so much hurt and disadvantage within Indigenous communities,” he said.
“Understanding and acknowledgement enable us to develop effective action to address the hurt and the problems and to get community support for them,” he said.
“Along with the apology, the Federal Government made commitments to act in a number of areas and it is pleasing to see that some progress has been made in the last twelve months,” he said.
“The commitment, in particular, by the Federal and State and Territory Governments to inject significant funding into efforts to close the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is welcome,” he said.
“There is so much to be done and it won’t be easy or quick, but, with the on-going support of the Australian community, change for the better can happen,” he said.
“The Commission hopes that Catholic parishes and schools will continue to reach out to local Indigenous people and develop relationships which can be the basis for reconciliation,” he said.
For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.
NB This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Charter which enables it to speak in its own right. The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.