The Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders issued a strongly worded statement ahead of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday 2105. In the statement, titled Solidarity on the Road to Justice, they criticize government policies that reduce funding for services in Aboriginal homelands and are likely to have the effect of pushing people off their traditional lands:
“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. The money needed to sustain the remote communities into the future is a paltry sum. The social and financial costs caused by uprooting remote peoples from their homes and pushing them into towns, where often basic services are lacking, is overwhelming.”
The Bishops describe the many challenges facing Aboriginal people and communities and call on the solidarity of non-Indigenous people to support change:
“The present day neo-Assimilationist point of view offers no solution to the task of finding a way forward for Aboriginal Australia. 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.”
Read the full statement here.