In a ceremony to mark the second anniversary of the Federal Parliament’s apology to members of the Stolen Generations, the Archdiocesan Justice and Peace Commission called on all Australian Governments, the Church and the community to continue working towards closing the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians in health and education standards.
The ceremony organized by the Justice and Peace Commission, the Murri Ministry Team and Brisbane Catholic Education was held at Ngutana-Lui Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Studies Centre at Inala on Friday 12 February.
Aboriginal elders from around Brisbane, students and staff from several Catholic Colleges, and representatives of a number of parishes attended the ceremony.
The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisors are keen to continue holding the ceremony each year so that the Church and the community continue to be reminded about the need for on-going action to address the disadvantages experienced by the first Australians.
“The apology by the Parliament in 2008 was a very important step in healing the deep wounds of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, but it must be accompanied by a long-term commitment to ending Indigenous disadvantage in Australia,” Mr Arndt said.
“That is why we ensured that those attending the ceremony not only had a chance to listen to the Aboriginal elders talk about their experiences of discrimination and mistreatment, but also had an opportunity to learn about the problems faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the areas of health and education,” he said.
“It is our hope that students and parishioners will go back to their schools and parishes and encourage their communities to get involved in community action to promote better health and education standards for the first peoples of this land,” he said.
“The Prime Minister has now released his Government’s second Closing the Gap Report and it is pleasing to see that significant efforts are being made to reduce Indigenous disadvantage in a number of important areas such as life expectancy, child mortality rates, literacy and numeracy levels, and access to early childhood education,” he said.
“It is good that serious efforts are being made to measure progress in these areas, but also that increased funding for programs is being made available,” he said.
“But we all have a role to play in ensuring that there is genuine respect for and partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in these programs,” he said.
“Participating in special events like Close the Gap Day which will be on Thursday 25 March this year is one way in which Catholic schools and parishes can continue to be involved in action to promote an end to Indigenous disadvantage,” he added.
For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.