Monday 29 June 2009
Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has urged Catholics in the Archdiocese of Brisbane to take more interest in learning about the achievements of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.
The Commission made the call in the lead-up to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday on 5 July and NAIDOC Week which runs from 5 to 11 July.
The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday is marked in the Church in order to celebrate the culture and contribution of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to the Church and the community.
He said that NAIDOC Week also provided an opportunity within the wider community for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to celebrate the ancient and living culture of the first peoples of Australia.
“At other times in the year like National Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week, we can reflect on the serious injustices faced by Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday and NAIDOC Week is a time for celebration and for honouring the first peoples of our land,” Mr Arndt said.
“In no way are we trying to downplay the seriousness of matters like the level of Indigenous poverty or the big life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, but it is important to take some time to reflect on the gifts and achievements of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders,” he said.
“How many of us know about the stories of the local Aboriginal people in our own community?” he asked.
“How many parishes and schools have made an effort to develop relationships with the local elders?” he also asked.
“Do we know about the wonderful achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in sport, the arts, medicine, the law and business?” he said.
“There are so many great initiatives developed and run by Aboriginal people that we should be celebrating too,” he said.
“How many of us know about the native salad project of the Dhugamin Aboriginal Corporation on the Fraser Coast which is growing and selling traditional bush tucker to local restaurants?” he said.
“We should all know about the establishment of the Traditional Credit Union which provides personalised quality financial services to individuals and organisations in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory,” he said.
“Magabala Books is a tremendous initiative of Aboriginal people in Western Australia which publishes the work of Aboriginal authors and encourages Aboriginal communities to record their history and culture,” he said.
“The Brisbane Indigenous Media Associaton has been an invaluable resource supporting local Indigenous people who want to get involved in the media and the Murriajabree Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Association is doing wonderful work providing support to Indigenous mothers and families in Deception Bay,” he said.
“Indigenous Australians face many significant problems, but they are also a proud people with a rich culture and a commitment to taking the initiative to do some great things for their benefit and for the benefit of the whole community,” he said.
“This is something worth recognising and celebrating,” he said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday and NAIDOC Week could be a launchpad for efforts by many Catholic communities in our Archdiocese to learn more about local Aboriginal people and the initiatives they are taking,” he said.
All are welcome to participate in an ecumenical NAIDOC Week service on 5 July next to Jagera Arts Hall in Musgrave Park, South Brisbane, at 2 p.m.
Everyone is also welcome to come to the NAIDOC Week Family Fun Day at Musgrave Park from 9 a.m. on Friday 10 July.
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.