17 February 2023
Religious leaders of Indigenous and multi faith communities are asking people of faith to listen to the perspectives of First Nations’ people for clarity about the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
It comes as the formal push for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations’ voice begins.
Social justice organisation Common Grace has invited Christians to pay attention to and reflect on the calls for justice from Indigenous people.
National director Gershon Nimbalker said that the campaign was an opportunity for Christians to act together for real change.
He said some parts of the Church were uncertain about the referendum but that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders wanted Christians to act and do what the majority of First Nations’ people wanted.
Wuthithi and Mabuiag Island woman, Common Grace relationships and storytelling coordinator Safina Stewart said that considerations of the Voice, treaties or truth telling always came back to the topic of justice because injustices persisted in the lives of First Nations people.
She said Indigenous people faced great sorrow and frustration at the structures that inhibited their health, freedom and ability to flourish.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Christian leaders including Aunty Jean Phillips are part of the organisation’s Listen to the heart campaign and speak of their experiences and of ways of keeping faith and hope alive, online.
Common Grace said it was planning live presentations in Australian cities including Melbourne and Sydney in the months ahead.
Melbourne’s Interfaith Centre is also asking multi faith and multicultural community leaders to participate in a special discussion about voice and reconciliation.
Interfaith Centre director the Reverend Helen Summers said representatives of different faiths were welcome to put their questions and concerns about the process to the panel.
“It is important that people are given clear information about the proposal, so that they can pass it on to their congregations and communities,” Ms Summers said.
The inter-religious discussion will feature Indigenous elder Aunty Helen Bnads, member of the Voice Co-design Senior Advisory Group Father Frank Brennan, and several human rights advocates including Melbourne Anglican Bishop Philip Huggins.
Wiradjuri man, the Reverend Canon Glenn Loughrey will be part of a panel seminar at St Paul’s Cathedral aimed at giving members of the Church and the wider community the chance to learn about the importance of the Indigenous Voice.
St Oswald’s Glen Iris where Canon Loughrey is vicar, has also been holding a series of Sunday services focussed on the relationship between the Church and Voice throughout February.
To hear more Indigenous perspectives about social justice at Common Grace, see here.
To find out about the Interfaith Centre of Melbourne’s initiative on Sunday 26 February, see here.
For more details about the St Paul’s panel discussion taking place on Monday 20 February, see here.
For more details about St Oswald’s Indigenous framed Sunday services, see here.