Faith in action over Stronger Futures legislation

Members of the 13th Assembly gather on the steps of the South Australian Parliament to hold a prayer vigil of lament for the Stronger Futures legislation

ALMOST 400 people sang, prayed and observed a minute's silence on the steps of the South Australian Parliament to express concern at the federal Stronger Futures laws.

At lunchtime on day five of the 13th Assembly, members moved en masse from their meeting to the steps of Parliament.

Passers-by stopped and stared and cars beeped their horns at the silent procession of people holding Uniting Church banners led by both the President and the Chairperson of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress Chair (UAICC).

After the whole crowd had joined in song, Uniting Church President Rev Prof Andrew Dutney opened the prayer vigil by declaring:

"We, the 13th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia, have gathered here today in lament and prayer, in response to the Federal Parliament's Stronger Futures legislation.

"Our political leaders must rise above the election cycle and commit funds and resources to practical programs that are evidence-based with accountable and transparent processes.

"The programs need to be developed and implemented in partnership with Indigenous communities rather than imposed upon them.

"We have worked in partnership with our Indigenous brothers and sisters and we have listened.

We commit ourselves with the Uniting Church's Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, to developing more just, inclusive and equal relationships in the Church and Australian community."

UAICC Chair Rev Rronang Garrawurra said: "The Australian Government has taken away our lands and now our humanity also is taken away by this new law."

The event made Channel Seven's Adelaide nightly bulletin.

The Stronger Futures laws passed at the end of June extend the policies of the Northern Territory Intervention such as income management by up to 10 more years.

The Uniting Church has been a vocal opponent of the legislation.

Rev Prof Dutney said that the Uniting Church believes in a God who seeks the reconciliation of all people.

"We are also members of a church that is still 'Uniting'.

"We challenge our church, our government and our nation to listen deeply to the knowledge and culture of our First Peoples.

"If we are serious about pursuing genuine relationships with the First Peoples, we must commit to genuine continued consultation and dialogue.

"In Christ, we are sisters and brothers, and so we commit ourselves to stand alongside each other in love and friendship."

Photo : Members of the 13th Assembly gather on the steps of the South Australian Parliament to hold a prayer vigil of lament for the Stronger Futures legislation