Standing united against community closures

The 14th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia has stood as one to oppose the forced closure of remote Aboriginal communities.

The symbolic action was the result of a heartfelt plea by a contingent of youthful members who pleaded with the Assembly to respond to the potential closures.

The action took place outside the University of Western Australia’s Winthrop Hall on Day Six of the Assembly meeting.

The entire Assembly meeting including President Stuart McMillan, Nyungar elder Rev. Sealin Garlett and UAICC Chairperson Rev. Dennis Corowa moved outside the hall to signal as one their solidarity with indigenous people in threat of being forced off their land by Federal and State Government policies.

The statement drafted by youthful members was read to the 14th Assembly on Thursday 16 July, as follows:

The youthful members of the Assembly seek to extend their love and support to the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.

We have been moved by the stories Congress shared with us. Both through the National UAICC report and through the time we spent with Uncle Sealin and his family during our pre-Assembly briefing.

The experiences Uncle Sealin and the youthful members of Congress shared moved us in ways words can’t convey.

Our hearts were heavy and we ached with our Congress family. We continue to ache.

As young people we struggle just to sit with pain, but rather seek to respond to it. As the week has progressed we have continued to feel a need to respond intentionally and meaningfully.

The youthful members commit to intentionally living out the covenant. Both here at the Assembly meeting and in our home congregations, we commit to supporting each other in living out this commitment.

As a first step in the renewal of this relationship (as a sign of our commitment to intentional renewal of relationship), we call on the 14th triennial Assembly to join the youthful members in a symbolic action in support of Congress’ call for us to oppose the potential closure of communities.

The action we propose is for the entire membership of the Assembly to gather on the lawns outside for a photo opportunity in support of Congress. Our hope is that the Assembly can commit to joining us in this as a symbolic first step towards the development of more authentic and lived out relationships.

We propose to do this at a time determined by the Business Committee.