Thursday, 14 February 2008

Sorry Day

It normally takes a horserace to bring Australia to a standstill, but yesterday it was a prime ministerial speech. Our staff watched as Kevin Rudd delivered the long awaited “Sorry” speech for the pain and grief that our nation, through deliberate policies and through indifference, has inflicted on our indigenous population. Worst of all the injustices was the implementation of a misguided belief that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, particularly “half-castes,” would almost invariably be better off taken away from their parents and handed over to white families or church-run missions to bring up. Our Church, along with others, has some time ago apologized for its complicity in implementing these policies, albeit, with the best of intentions. It will probably be a long time before we hear a politician speak so movingly and the emotions of a nation so stirred. It remains to be seen to what extent our governments, state and federal, can translate sentiment into practical support for our indigenous communities in areas such as health and education. There is a danger that when the mood fades, little changes. It will take courage and hard work and ultimately the transforming power of the Christian hope at work in indigenous and non-indigenous Australians alike, not resolutions of parliament, to effect real and lasting change and genuine reconciliation.

1 comment:

Derek said...

Here it is: 22nd April. I wonder how many are still shedding the tears they shed on "Sorry Day"? I wonder how many remember the date - let alone what was actually said.

Whilst it is true something had to be said about the situation, more important than words and at-the-moment emotion is a resolve - on both sides - to "grasp the nettle" and do something concrete about the situation that has developed.

Surely this is a prime example of the need for a change of heart - and an absolute change of heart at that - by both sides. In the current environment of political games and unwillingness to openly and honestly discuss solutions (some of which might prove to be painful in the short term - for both "sides") such a change of heart seems unlikely.

This, of course, is not helped by the fact that those who have been so adversely affected cannot agree on what the best approach is to be.

I was interested to visit the Australian Museum in Canberra not long after it was opened. This was in the days when it was said (and I must say that I think correctly so) that it had a bias and a barrow to push. But, the interesting thing I found was that the Presbyterian Church was the only "institution" I could find that came out with a positive score card in its dealings with aboriginals.

What a great base for us to build on. It seems that there is a great field of endevour amongst the indiginous people of Australia to get them on their feet - physically, emotionally, economically and, of course, spiritually.

And, wouldn't it be great if the Presbyterian Church could be at the forefront.