“The Heart of Our Country:  Dignity and justice for our Indigenous sisters and brothers”

The 2006 Catholic Social Justice Sunday Statement was launched on Thursday 14 September at the Reconciliation Church, La Perouse, Sydney.

Mr Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner launched the Statement.  Fr Brian McCoy SJ who has worked for many years with communities including in Wadeye, responded.

The Statement, The Heart of Our Country, draws on the historic Alice Springs address of Pope John Paul II to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia.  As we mark the 20th anniversary of that remarkable day in 1986, the Statement invites us to reflect on what Australia has achieved in responding to the Holy Father’s challenge to support Indigenous culture and pursue true reconciliation.

Among many issues, the Statement focuses on the social and economic disadvantage that continues to be experienced by Indigenous communities.

“How can it be that in this land of plenty, the average life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is 17 years less than for non-Indigenous Australians?” ask the Bishops. “In a nation that enjoys a vibrant economy, where governments boast of their careful financial management, the question remains: why have we not been able to eliminate these dire circumstances from the everyday experience of many Indigenous people?”