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Live, love and fight for our First Nations peoples.

Live, love and fight for our First Nations peoples.

Live, love and fight for our First Nations peoples.

10 July 2019

Salvation Army representatives with the Uluru Statement from the Heart, an official painted and signed canvas, which was presented to then Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2017. The statement calls for a ‘First Nations Voice’ in the Australian Constitution.

By Dr Lynore K Geia

Everything has a season. Seeds are sown, some fall by the way and some grow.

The National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) is a flourishing seed.

Its conceptual origin can be traced to Aboriginal people in the 1920s, who saw a need to bring the First Nations peoples’ voice into a space where it had been deemed vox nullius (no voice). Namely, to promote the status of Australia’s First Nations peoples from constitutional exclusion to inclusion.

In gaining understanding of a thing, we have to ask ourselves what happened, where are we currently, where do we need to go, and what do we need to do?

Throughout history there are always points in time when the geopolitics of nations undergo processes of profound change. If we look at the life of Yorta Yorta man William Cooper and his work in the 1930s, we can glimpse the seedbed of NAIDOC.

Cooper was a ‘Kingdom’ man whose heart and vision for freedom was not only for his people, but for other peoples who were living under oppression.

I believe there are many First Nations peoples who, like Cooper, have a heart for reconciliation, not just as a political process, but hearing a divine call to bring to the fore the voice for justice. It’s a voice of representation and transformational reconciliation.

Over the decades, the concept of NAIDOC has gathered momentum as a celebration of cultural survival, a movement of social reform, one that now brings together First Nations peoples and the wider Australian community, heralding a voice for change.

NAIDOC now enriches our nation of Australia. It is a voice to the nation that says we are still here, celebrate with us! As with Cooper, the First Nation peoples’ voice continues to be integral in leading the way.

Likewise, First Nations Christian leaders also have a key role to play in the transformation of the nation through the work of the Spirit.

The development of a treaty requires us to treat each other in a way that fosters partnerships in truth, privileging the leadership of First Nations peoples and their voice, working together and supporting national initiatives for our healing.

We look to a future where light exposes the dark places through truth, respect, and giving dignity to First Nations peoples by Makarrata [an Aboriginal ceremonial ritual symbolising the restoration of peace after a dispute] that can only bring freedom to our nation to flourish.

Let’s celebrate NAIDOC Week and work together for a shared future. 

Dr Lynore K. Geia is a Bwgcolman woman from Palm Island. She is an academic and health professional who approaches her work from a holistic model of caring for the body, mind and spirit.


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