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Not the End of the Journey

A photograph of Uluru, taken at sunrise/sunset

After the referendum on the Voice to Parliament, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders called for a week of silence before public comments are made about the referendum outcome and what should happen now. The Office has respected this request and, now, we begin to share some perspectives on the referendum outcome.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) spoke strongly about the experiences of the First Australians in this year’s Social Justice Statement. They supported a Voice to Parliament and also proposed action we can all take to participate in the new engagement with First Nations Peoples proposed by the Bishops.

After the referendum, they issued a statement stressing the importance of hope. They urged that everyone listen to First Nations Peoples about the challenges they face and what action is needed to meet those challenges. They urge us to continue on the journey of hope with them. You can read their statement in full here.

A group of First Nations leaders who supported the Yes campaign also released an open letter to the Prime Minister, MPs and Senators. They describe the result as appalling and mean-spirited and blame a lack of bipartisanship, lies in the media and communication , and racism for the outcome.

Bishop Charles Gauci, Chair of the Bishops Commission for Relations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples also issued a statement in which he called for a new era of engagement with First Nations Peoples.

Over the last few months, my co-worker, Harrison, and I spent a lot of time with First Nations people to support them and to listen to them. Many of them have been greatly challenged by the behaviour and comments of friends, work colleagues and people at markets, on the street and at polling booths. Many have expressed hurt and anger at the way some have treated them. Much healing work is needed. It must be grounded in deep respect and love. It is time to listen again, to listen with our ears and our heads, but especially, with our hearts.