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Resource and consult with Aboriginal people say NT church leaders


Uniting Church Moderator Steve Orme from the Northern Synod, Anglican for the Northern Territory Bishop Philip Freier and Darwin’s Catholic Bishop Ted Collins, Roman have issued a joint statement regarding the current media attention to conditions in Aboriginal communities.

"We speak as the leaders of three churches with a long relationship with the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory. Between us we have a large percentage of our church membership living in over thirty remote and urban communities throughout the Northern Territory. Aboriginal clergy minister as full members of each of our denominations. Our pastoral, educational and community welfare work is engaged with the social situations of Aboriginal people," the statement said.

The church leaders make a plea for the present debate about the living and social situations in Indigenous Australia to be done with an awareness of the impact of white settlement in the lands of the Aboriginal nations throughout Australia.

"We urge that there be full consultation with the Indigenous people whose social circumstances are the object of current public and media discussion.

"We call all in Australia who are engaged in this debate to recognise that the spiritual issues of identity and belonging must be dealt with and that human life cannot be reduced to merely material terms.

"We urge the Australian people to approach these issues with the love for the neighbour and those who are different in the way that Jesus taught."

The three church representatives have called for adequate resourcing of housing and other community infrastructure to relieve overcrowding and inadequate community services.

"We call for better resourcing of non-government education facilities operated by our churches and specifically for Nungalinya College in its work of adult leadership and community development.

"We urge that co-ordination of resourcing be done at all levels and that this co-ordination be done with the Aboriginal people concerned."

The statement said the chruches believe that the social circumstances that are currently being discussed call all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous to penitence and self reflection.

"We express our confidence that Aboriginal people are already making a strong contribution to the life of the whole Australian society and urge that we move away from stereotypes in these discussions."