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Queensland Synod moderator, Rev David Baker. Photo: Ben Rogers
Queensland Synod Moderator, Rev David Baker. Photo: Ben Rogers

Moderator’s Musing – 3 September

Part two of my trip up north was to “Walk on Country” with Rev Richard Cassady, a few Synod folk, and “Australians Together”. What inspired me about this trip was engaging with Indigenous leaders who are getting on with the job of providing opportunities for their people to find meaningful purpose in life.

The Girringun Aboriginal Corporation at Cardwell runs a number of programs that are truly inspiring in terms of remembering the story of their peoples, managing land and waters, and developing small businesses that generate opportunities for development. We had time to chat with CEO Phil Rist. Phil had also been the chair of the body that oversees Girringun; a body that holds together nine clans together over a significant part of the country between Ingham and Cairns. He was refreshingly frank about the challenges involved in that; of course he found a sympathetic ear from me, a couple of presbytery leaders, and an executive from UnitingCare Queensland. We have our own challenges with those kinds of dynamics!

From there we headed on to Mungalla Station, outside Ingham, where we saw wetlands rehabilitation work being done, and heard the story of Indigenous people being taken to be exhibits in Barnum and Bailey’s circus in the United States of America. “Tambo”, one of the men taken, is now resting in his homeland on Palm Island after his mummified body was found in a Cleveland (Ohio) mortuary.

We then went over to Palm Island. There’s an interesting connection to the Queensland Synod here, as the father of Robin Crause—former manager of Uniting Church Investment Service—was a teacher on Palm. We heard stories from the locals of how he stood up against institutional racism directed towards the children in his care.

There are stories that need to be told, that we all need to listen to, stories that have been suppressed, and stories that give us all hope for a reconciled and just Australia.

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