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Solidarity: On the road to justice

posted Jun 29, 2015, 2:59 PM by Sean Donovan   [ updated Jun 29, 2015, 3:02 PM ]


Media Release from the Bishops Commission for

Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders


AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE

Media Release | 25 June 2015

Solidarity: On the road to justice


Governments at the State and Federal levels must become serious about the

immense shortage of housing stocks in townships, instead of contemplating how

they can make it worse by forcing more people from remote areas into town-zones

already suffering from serious deprivations, according to the Bishop of Broome,

Christopher Saunders.


In his statement to Catholic parishes across Australia as the Church prepares to

celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People on Sunday 5 July 2015,

Bishop Saunders said, 'The crime rate in townships is far greater than in remote

areas, as is serious drug abuse. Needles are not found lying around in bunches in

remote villages as they are in regional townships.


'The original argument in favour of closing off funds to many remote communities

was an economic one. There is not enough money to pay for the homelands, it

was said. It is simply amazing how it is in this country that whenever governments

over-spend or income shrinks, it is always the poor who pay to rectify the fiscal

shortfall.'


Rural Australia is in a depressed state and the Aboriginal people in rural Australia

are better off when living on traditional lands, than in exile away from it, the

statement reads.


'There is no evidence to suggest that leaving traditional homelands for life in towns

will benefit the people presently living in remote villages. It is a fact that life is better

in the remote villages than in the fringe dwelling settlements,' Bishop Saunders

said.


'When this nation realises that more rather than fewer resources are needed to

meet the needs of Aboriginal people in this country, then, and only then, will we

begin to overcome the challenges before us. Then might we effectively whittle

away the disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal people who suicide, who are in

gaol, are unemployed, are suffering ill health, are homeless, are under-nourished

and who are oppressed by the effects of poverty and a poor education.

Sadly, it appears that history repeats itself. Just when we thought that there was

light at the end of the tunnel - the result of legal judgements like Native Title and

Wik, and just when the Homelands Movement had proved a boon to displaced

traditional owners, the ominous noise of negative change and repression is heard

yet again.


There are numerous examples of Aboriginal people in Australia who have learnt to

live above the quagmire of defeat. But, there are many, many others who live

below a robust capability.


Bishop Saunders declared that 'Non-Aboriginal Christians must stand in solidarity

with their Aboriginal brothers and sisters, while Aboriginal Christians are called to

be determined, not to falter, no matter the obstacles that rise up to make a just way

difficult. In faith and through prayer, the energy needed to seek justice, to right

what is wrong and to find a new, positive way forward is at hand.'


Download the ATSI 2015 Statement

Parish and school resources from NATSICC


Media Enquiries:

Aoife Connors

Media Communications Director

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

0450 348 597