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Melbourne Archbishop Peter A Comensoli yesterday told a Victorian truth-telling inquiry that the Catholic Church’s history with Aboriginal people was predominantly positive. Source: Yahoo News.

Representatives from the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches fronted the Yoorrook Justice Commission in Melbourne yesterday, as the inquiry focused on land injustices against Aboriginal people. 

Archbishop Comensoli stressed the Catholic Church was not involved in missions but said the reality that they led to Aboriginal people’s languages stopping was “deeply damaging”.

He suggested the Church’s history with Aboriginal people was predominantly positive and enabled them to flourish, only marred by “individuals and localised communities”.

During the hearing, it was revealed the Anglican Church’s property trust holds an estimated 260 hectares of land in Victoria. That equated to about $1.49 billion worth, with the Melbourne diocese alone holding $1.38 billion of that total value, and not accounting for improvements to the land or any buildings on it.

Yoorrook counsel assisting Tim Goodwin flagged the Government would have given some of that land to the Church without regard for Aboriginal people, and there was no traditional owner group with land of such a value.

“There’s no question that there’s an incredible disparity of land justice outcomes between the Anglican Church and First Nations Victorians,” Anglican Bishop Richard Treloar of the Gippsland Diocese, said.

Commissioner Tony North KC noted Yoorrook was only able to ask the Anglican Church about its land ownership figures because both the Uniting and Catholic churches applied to keep their figures confidential.

All three churches revealed they did not have schemes to address land acquisition.

The Anglican Church set up and ran missions in Victoria including at Lake Tyers and Lake Condah.

Uniting Church moderator Reverend David Fotheringham acknowledged his Church’s involvement in missions contributed to Aboriginal people’s dispossession from land, culture and language.

Yoorrook’s work will inform statewide treaty negotiations between the Government and the First Peoples’ Assembly, slated to begin later this year.


Church reveals ‘incredible’ $1.49b Victorian land haul (By Cassandra Morgan, AAP via Yahoo News)