An area of great concern in Australia at present is the situation of our First Australians. With the passing of the Stronger Futures legislation this year, the situation has become even more critical. This legislation virtually extends the Northern Territory Intervention for a further ten years, despite so much criticism of the legislation that came from aborigines themselves and human rights activists.
The JPIC team (Srs Cathy Sariman, Celina Gavia, Grace Ellul, Noelene Simmons and Therese Campbell) joined also by Sr Gail Reneker, Sector Leader, attended an evening hosted by Amnesty International on 23rd October at NSW Parliament House. The film, “Our Generation”, was screened. This is a very moving plea by aboriginal community leaders who desire to be part of planning for their own people, insisting on self-determination that is a right of all people.
On 5th November, Therese Campbell and Grace Ellul attended a book launch at Gleebooks. The book launched was “A Decision to Discriminate”, which presents an analysis of the recent Senate Inquiry on the Stronger Futures legislation. What was shared by aboriginal leaders during the consultation process appears in the book and the inadequacy of the consultation process is also made clear. Keynote speaker was Graeme Mundine from Aboriginal Catholic Ministry.
As Marist Sisters, we join our voices to those of others. United Nations, the Australian Human Rights Commission, Catholic Religious Australia and many other groups have strongly questioned this legislation. We believe in the right of our First Australians to work together with government in the planning of what is best for the aboriginal peoples, always respecting their cultural heritage.