Home' The Southern Cross : June 2017 Contents was supported by a profoundly
spiritual understanding of the world
Part of the enduring tragedy for
modern Australia is that when
European Christians eventually
began to occupy this country they
had neither the eyes to see nor the
ears to hear the richness of what
they were encountering. The people
who lived the ancient spirituality of
this land found no welcome in the
material culture that overtook them.
There was no welcome either for
the prophets and the holy men of
the Dreaming and so much of what
could have enriched our Christian
spirituality was ignored.
But hope still prevails. We are
an Easter people and today we
stand ready to take up the cross
of lost opportunity. Today, as a
Christian people, we stand ready to
work together towards a genuine
reconciliation and a truly inclusive
Much has already been achieved.
Legal discrimination that was
once a soul-destroying part of
the daily life of Indigenous people
has been substantially removed.
Constitutional recognition, treaties
and sovereignty are being proposed.
All this is good. But the law
has no jurisdiction over the heart
and no amount of legislative or
constitutional reform can, by itself
alone, achieve the goal we seek.
Genuine reconciliation and a truly
Australian Church depend upon
what we hold in our hearts and the
personal relationships we can each
build between the Indigenous and
non-Indigenous peoples of our
Offering a cup of cold water may
be a beginning but we long for the
day when Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Australians and
Australians of other backgrounds
can all take their place together
around the same table to partake of
the banquet that could be ours to
We stand ready to work
together towards a
and a truly inclusive
The Southen Cross June 2017
eresource: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday
‘Three Crosses’ by Yvonne Tjintjiwara Edwards
is featured on the poster to promote this year’s
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday.
Born on her traditional country near Ooldea in South
Australia, after the closure of the United Aborigines’
Mission in 1952, Yvonne and her family were
forcibly removed eastward in care of the Lutheran
missionaries eventually settling at Yalata, while their
traditional country was taken over for the British
Nuclear Test Series from 1953 to 1963.
Yvonne, a devout Christian, was asked to do a
painting for the Reconciliation service at St David’s
Anglican Church in Burnside. The work has since been
featured on the cover of the Guardian newspaper
of the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide and it hangs
permanently in St David’s Church.
There have been two significant anniversaries recognised in Australia
in recent weeks.
On June 3 Australians commemorated the 25th anniversary of the
High Court of Australia’s landmark Mabo decision in 1992. This decision
legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had
a special relationship to the land—a relationship that existed prior to
colonalisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for
land rights or Native Title.
Saturday May 27 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of Australia’s
most successful referendum and a defining event in the nation’s
history. In the 1967 referendum more than 90 per cent voted to give
the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people and recognise them in the census. Two negative
references to Aborigines were removed, giving the Commonwealth the
power to legislate for them as a group. This change was seen by many
as a recognition of Aboriginal people as full Australian citizens.
Last month hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates
from across the country met in Uluru for the 2017 National Constitutional
Convention and to celebrate the 50th anniversary. Some of those
attending were engaged in the initial 1967 referendum process.
During the convention they issued the landmark Uluru Statement
from the Heart calling for the creation of two new legal entities — a
First Nations voice enshrined in the Constitution, and a Makarrata
Commission set up by legislation. As the statement outlined:
‘We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a
rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny
our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture
will be a gift to their country.
We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the
Constitution. Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming
together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful
relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our
children based on justice and self-determination.
We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of
agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-
telling about our history.’
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