The 14th Assembly meeting has begun considering proposal brought by members of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC).
Rev. Dr Chris Budden spoke on Proposal 25, the Covenanting Task Group Proposal.
He reflected on the constant pressure of assimilation and cultural change for First People’s in our land and outlined the current issues affecting remote communities.
Issues included schools being closed, language programs defunded, people imprisoned and forced from their homes.
Chris encouraged gathered members to reflect on the way First Peoples are denied their life and liberty.
The report of the Covenanting task group (Standing Committee) was received by consensus by the gathered members of Assembly.
The Proposal was set aside until tomorrow so people can hear from Congress and have further discussions regarding the proposal.
On behalf of the UAICC, Uncle Ray Minniecon presented Proposal 20, which calls to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery.
Uncle Ray outlined how the Doctrine infiltrated every part of the world and asked gathered members to interrogate white rights and white privilege in light of the Doctrine of Discovery. The proposal was also set aside until tomorrow for further discussion.
Proposal 19 – Indigenous recognition in the Australian Constitution was presented to members of Assembly.
Rev. Denise Champion spoke of the two clauses that discriminate on the basis of race within the constitution and expressed her desire to have the Constitution changed.
Gathered members also heard from Rev Djawanydjawany Gondarra regarding his desire for a Treaty between First and Second Peoples.
It was agreed that the proposals would be further discussed in working groups on Tuesday afternoon for further consideration.
Stuart McMillan invited all First peoples to the stage and invited the gathered members to honour them for their presence among the Assembly.
Stuart prayed for the First Peoples, “Lord we honour those who have gone before us.
“We thank you for the inheritance we have and we pray as we continue to walk together as First and Second peoples that we would honour one another and honour you in the name of Christ, Amen.”
The meeting has temporarily set aside a proposal to explore with the UAICC how the Uniting Church can better affirm that First Peoples are sovereign Peoples.
Stuart McMillan said, “There is longing in the church between First and Second Peoples for a deepening relationship.”
The UAICC is encouraging all Uniting Church councils, agencies and schools to take part in this process.
A question arose from the floor around what exactly the proposal means by “sovereignty”.
Mr McMillan elaborated. “The prevailing, ‘British’ legal view is that sovereignty has been lost,” he said, “But that doesn’t prevent us as a church from exploring what sovereignty means to us.
“The emphasis of our conversations about sovereignty has sifted to be about rights, rather than being about the common good.”
The proposal was not passed immediately, as further information was sought from the UAICC as to how they define sovereignty.
Previous president Rev. Prof. Andrew Dutney, who was chairing this part of the meeting said, “The feeling I have is that this Assembly is treating this proposal very seriously and more information is required before we can pass this proposal.”
The proposal was put aside until more information can be acquired from the UAICC.