Ms Marjorie Thorpe

Co- Chair, Reconciliation Victoria

Former Member, Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, 1997-2000

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

This statement is an extract from Marjorie Thorpe's address at the Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church on I October, 2000. The full text of her address is displayed on the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (CAR) website (archived files) http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/IndigLRes/car/pubs.html#speech. The extract is reprinted with the permission of the author and CAR.

Faith and Reconciliation

People of faith spend a lot of time focusing on relationships. Their relationship with their God, with their families, with Creation and with other people in the community. Many faith groups have also started to focus on the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider community. If you think about it, you will see this is a relationship that needs healing. Look at your own community.

It's quite likely there is a gap in understanding between Indigenous peoples and the wider community right there in your backyard. It's worth trying to understand what's going on underneath the surface in your community. It takes some effort, but the rewards in personal growth and the enrichment of our nation can be enormous.

People from the wider community who have already begun learning more about the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have discovered rich and different ways of seeing the world. Those privileged to be given an insight into Indigenous spirituality have seen how their faith can connect with central beliefs so precious to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - their sense of belonging and their connection to land and sea. Communities that have made the effort to build bridges of understanding have forged new friendships and moved to new levels of knowledge. It's really not that hard to find common ground.

Faith and Reconciliation - What Can I Do?

If you want to get involved in reconciliation, the first step is to learn a little more about the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and about the reconciliation process. It's important to share what you know with others and to discuss issues, ideas and ways of relating. Find out what is happening in your Church or faith community in relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. See what action can be taken to improve relationships. People who want to help spread the message and organise activities to promote reconciliation can form a local reconciliation group and become part of the people's movement. If your Church doesn't already celebrate the Week of Prayer for Reconciliation during National Reconciliation Week, perhaps you can discuss getting involved.

I am sure you will enjoy the journey.