Magayamirri Rom. Greetings to you
in the Yolngu languages of north-eastern Arnhem Land. “May the way of peace and tranquility, harmony with the whole creation, be with and within you.” As Australians across the country pause to mark the anniversary of British settlement I wanted to share with you some reflections on the 26th of January a day which many including myself refer to as “Survival Day”. On this day I encourage you to celebrate the resilience of our First Peoples the indigenous people of this land who have survived the waves of colonisation which have swept over them. Aboriginal leaders in all walks of life are making extraordinary contributions to our shared life and helping us all
to better understand ourselves and our nation. Across all parts of Australia cultural practices connecting the First Peoples with this land and creation continue to be life-giving. Ancient languages are spoken and many are now being saved from extinction. These are good reasons for all Australians to give thanks. Our national day is a good time for those of us who are the Second Peoples to see with new clarity the wonderful heritage that is embodied in the nations and clans of this land’s First Peoples. I welcome the Australia Day Council’s acknowledgement that our national day should be authentic and mature a day when we can celebrate and
mourn at the same time. Respect for First Peoples is the hallmark of a great nation and it’s now time for us to follow through on our unfinished business with First Peoples. For Christians, Christ’s love compels us to be truth tellers, ministers of reconciliation daughters and sons of peace and bearers of light and love. In the Uniting Church we recognised First Peoples in our Constitution some years ago. We’re now committed to a conversation about
what it would mean for us to honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as sovereign peoples. We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander
Christian Congress in their desire to engage the Federal Government on their just concerns for a Treaty denied for so long in this land. There is much work to do. May God grant us the perseverance to carry forward these important conversations working together with Australians who have a passion for indigenous justice. This Survival Day may you hold the warmth of the campfire in your heart.