The challenges, opportunities and realities of solidarity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia were discussed at the 7th annual Australian Catholic University Solidarity Dinner in Brisbane. Source: The Catholic Leader.
Held at Brisbane’s Hilton Hotel on July 31, the evening featured panellists Cape York Land Council chair Richie Ah Mat, Indigenous Corporations registrar Selwyn Button, ACU Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven, 2016 Churchill Fellow Dr Doseena Fergie and Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge.
Moderator Professor Jim Nyland said it was a rich topic and the panellists made for a “fascinating discussion”.
One of the images distilled over the evening was from Dr Fergie, who travelled south during her thesis to see two rivers meeting, the Murray and Darling rivers.
She said at the point they met, there was a distinct visible line between the two rivers, but they met and continued on as one.
“We are just two different cultures, two different world views and, yes, our spirituality is different,” she said.
“What that metaphor, what that analogy, showed me was that we can come together and be transformed and walk together.”
But there were many challenges standing in the way of that harmony. Archbishop Coleridge said despite good will, many policies and programs hadn’t worked because there was a piece of the puzzle missing.
“Politics are important but they won’t do it; legal aspects are very important, but not enough; funding is very important but it’s not enough; the missing piece of the puzzle – in a sense it’s the key piece – is the spiritual,” he said.
Mr Button said one of the key issues standing in the way of advancement was how policy targets were created and oriented. He said a lack of consultation was rife in those processes.
Mr Button said with a program like Close the Gap, those affected weren’t involved in setting the agenda but were imposed upon.
He said engaging different levels of government and local communities – and listening to them – were crucial to setting up attainable and meaningful goals.