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Task 1 Religion Notes

1 Aboriginal Spirituality
1.1Kinship
Kinship is the reciprocal relationship of rights and responsibilities divided
between a groups of indigenous Australians. The kinship binds together
those related biologically, by sharing a totem or through marriage. The kin
relationship provides potential for a sense of belonging and enforces a sense
of respect for the group, extending to all living things. The nature of the
obligations within the kinship groups reflects the closeness of Aboriginal
Spirituality with the dreaming.

1.2Ceremonial Life
The rich ceremonial life of the aboriginal people adds meaning and purpose
to periodic events and life cycles. When celebrating certain stages and
events in ones life the community unties in dreaming stories performed in
dance and song. Burial rituals furthermore acknowledge the spirits of the
dead return to the dreaming places they originated from, reestablishing the
place of living unity with nature. Ceremonies reiterate the fact that the
environment is inseparable from the dreaming and allow individuals to
identify with the land on a social, emotional and intellectual level.

1.3Obligations to land and people


The inter relationships between the land and people is based on deep
respect for the spiritually, physically and emotionally resourceful land. The
people depend on the land, to live and obtain the obligation to the land to
preserve and honor it. The land provides the aboriginal people with food,
shelter, water and repository for sacred acts of dreaming beings where
appropriate elders perform rites.

2 Effect of dispossession
Dispossession refers to the taking away or removing aboriginal people from
their land hence, the immense loss of land, language and life. This removal is
as a direct result of a series of government policies since colonization such
as protectionism, segregation, assimilation, integration.

2.1Separation from the land


The aboriginal spirituality and way of life is completely inextricable from the
land on an emotional, spiritual and physical level. The dreaming stories are
regenerated from the land as a means of comprehending the nature and
origins of life which are then handed down through the kinship order of the
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group. When dispossession occurred generations of traditions was lost for


eternity.
FOR EXAMPLE: The Bringing them Home Report (1997) - the aborigines were
plundered of their rations, robbed of their lands, and reduced to the position
of slaves. This separation from land is equivalent to a loss of identity, since
the Dreaming, which is central to Aboriginal spirituality, is inextricably
connected to the land. The loss of land as a result of dispossession leads to
the ever-present burden of not being able to fulfil ritual responsibilities.

2.2Separation from kinship groups


The kinship group is the fundamental means of determining the rights and
responsibilities within the network of people. The separation from kinship
groups meant that hierarchy and respect for elders was mostly lost. The
result of a separation of kin groups is the rebellion of young indigenous
Australians and the loss of meaning and purpose in life.
FOR EXAMPLE: Kanyini- Growing up with all the oldies our parents and
grandparents they always said that we are connected to everything else and
the proof of that is being alive. Separation from kinship groups, results in
the loss of language, which effectively means that the ability to pass on
beliefs in an authentic way has been destroyed.

2.3The stolen generations


Through is course of colonization and dispossession, the aboriginal people
increasing suffered from a loss of land, language and life. European settlers
forcibly removed half castes children from indigenous families in order to
assimilate them to white culture, in the long term creating a white society.
FOR EXAMPLE: Kanyini- We'll set up institutions and take these half caste
kids away and make them white. Weve broken their connectedness to their
belief system. We've taken their land. Separation from tribal elders and
prohibitions from using their traditional languages and practices was an
effective way of severing Aboriginal children's ties with the Dreaming. The
removal of these children from their traditional lands means that they could
no longer learn or fulfil their ritual responsibilities.

2.4SAMPLE RESPONSE:
2.4.1 Explain the continuing effects of dispossession on Aboriginal
Spirituality
Dispossession is the forced removal of aboriginals from their land and
families. This removal is as a direct result of a series of government policies
since colonisation. The separation from land is equivalent to loss of identity,
since the Dreaming, which is central to Aboriginal Spirituality, is inextricably
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connected to the land. The loss of land as a result of dispossession leads to


the ever-present burden of not being able to fulfil ritual responsibilities. This
is seen in The Bringing them Home Report (1997) - the aborigines were
plundered of their rations, robbed of their lands, and reduced to the position
of slaves. Separation from kinship groups, results in the loss of language,
which effectively means that the ability to pass on beliefs in an authentic
way has been destroyed. This is seen in Kanyini Growing up with all the
oldies our parents and grandparents they always said that we are connected
to everything else and the proof of that is being alive. Separation from tribal
elders and prohibitions from using their traditional languages and practices
was an effective way of severing Aboriginal children's ties with the Dreaming.
The removal of these children from their traditional lands means that they
could no longer learn or fulfil their ritual responsibilities. Kanyini explores the
overall effect of these separations on Aboriginal Spirituality We'll set up
institutions and take these half caste kids away and make them white. Weve
broken their connectedness to their belief system. We've taken their land.

3 Land rights movement


3.1Yirrikala Bark petition
The Yirrikala Bark Petition marked the first formal document recognised by
the Commonwealth Parliament and pioneered a process of legislative and
constitutional reforms for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This
consequently sparked the Land Rights movement which encouraged
Aboriginals to take ownership of their lands.

first time aboriginal people politicised for their rights (unified for their
cause)
Not only a petition seeking aboriginal rights but it was written in
aboriginal law terms
struggle to reclaim the land taken from them and be reconnected with
the Dreaming

1963-1967
Bark Petition by the Yirrikala situated on the Gove Peninsula in Arnhem Land
This petition was sent to the Commonwealth House of Representatives
written in their own language. It was to do with the decision to take land
from the Arnhem Land Reserve for bauxite mining. While this did not result in
full land rights, the Yirrikala people were compensated in part by way of land
grants.

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3.2Gurindji People
By Gough Whitlam both symbolically and physically giving back the land to
Vincent Lingiari and his Aboriginal people, he acknowledges the depth of
importance that the Land holds for Aboriginal Australia (the fact that they
were prepared to wait)

Reconnecting the Aboriginal people with their land and sacred sites,
reconnects and re-establishes their Dreaming and spirituality.

1966-1975
The Gurindji people living on the Wave Hill cattle station in the Northern
Territory went on strike for award wages and better living conditions
At the heart of this struggle was the issue of land rights and the return of
their traditional homeland. This case saw Gough Whitlam hand over the
lease of traditional land to the Gurindji people.

3.3Freedom rides
Important for land rights movement because it was a political statement don't have to accept being treated as a second class.

important for aboriginal spirituality as it acknowledges for white


Australian, Indigenous people should be acknowledged and not
discriminated against in any way spiritual or otherwise

1965
Freedom rides
A group of University students, including Charles Perkins, travelled
throughout the country area highlighting racism and discrimination. Various
incidents were publicized in the media gaining national support for Aboriginal
people.

3.4Referendum
1967
Referendum
Prior to 1967 Aboriginal people were subject to State government decisions
about their welfare and were not counted in the census as Australian
citizens. The referendum resulted in just over 90% of Australians in favour of
the Commonwealth government assuming control of Aboriginal Affairs and
including them in the census.

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3.5Tent Embassy
The tent embassy began with four aboriginal men that placed a beach
umbrella on the lawn of Parliament house. This was in response to the
government's refusal to acknowledge aboriginal land rights. The umbrellas
were soon replaced by tents and aboriginal as well as non-aboriginal began
protest to demand land rights for aboriginal people.
1972
Tent Embassy
Aboriginal people believed the referendum of 1967 would see an
improvement in their lives. This was not to be the case. In 1972 political
activists set up tents on the lawns of Parliament House and called it the Tent
Embassy. The black, red and yellow flag, designed by Harold Thomas of the
Arrente tribe in SA, was flown as the symbol of the Aboriginal people. This
action took the plight of the Aboriginal people to an international audience
and laid the foundations of the Labor Party's win later that year with their It's
Time slogan.

3.6Mabo
The Mabo judgment achieved some measure of justice for Aboriginal people.
It opened the way for them to make claims in respect of their traditional
lands.

Overturns concept of Terra Nullius and give recognition of sacred


Aboriginal land, hence reestablishing connection.

1982-1992
Mabo Decision
1992 Mabo Decision by the High Court of Australia. This historic decision
overthrew the concept of terra nullius in Australia. Although it was a ten-year
struggle, which Eddie Mabo did not live to see completed, the Meriam people
proved ownership of the Murray Islands on the principles of British common
law. This in turn led to the Native Title Act 1993 that allows other Aboriginal
groups to put in similar land claims.

3.7Native Title
The Native Title Act sought to balance the interests of these parties with
Aboriginal people's property and cultural rights in five ways.
1
2

It recognises and protects native title rights to land and waters based on
the customary law and traditions of indigenous peoples of Australia
It provides for the validation of any past grants of land that may
otherwise have been invalid because of the existence of native title.
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3
4
5

It provides a regime to enable future dealings in native title lands and


imposes conditions on those dealings.
It establishes a regime to ascertain where native title exists, who holds it
and what it is, and determine compensation for acts affecting it.
It creates a land acquisition fund to meet the needs of dispossessed
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who would not be able to
claim native title

Dispossession
Stolen Generation
Returning the land to the people which is important as the land it the
vehicle of the dreaming
over turning terra nullius gives legal connection for aboriginal
spirituality

3.7.1 The native title process has also given Indigenous people a
seat at the negotiating table whether or not native title has
been determined by the Federal Court. However, the Native
Title Act has its shortcomings and there is always room for
improvement. JOHN SOSSO, Acting President National Native
Title Tribunal. With reference to the quotation, outline the
importance of Native Title legislation in achieving the
objectives of the Land Rights movement.
The Land Rights movement recognises the inextricable connection between
the land and expressions of the Dreaming. Native Title is a legal term
recognising the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to use and
occupy their lands for traditional purposes. Thus providing a continued
connection with the land. Therefore the Native Title process has played an
important role in achieving the objective of the Land Rights movement.
There is however, as suggested by John Sosso, always room for
improvement.
The Mabo Case (1992) overturned the notion of Terra Nullius. This judgment
was very significant as the first legal recognition for the Land Rights
movement giving Indigenous people a seat at the negotiating table. In
1993, the Native Title Act and subsequent amendments (1997) stated Native
Title and leasehold rights could coexist, giving leaseholders priority.
Although a clarification of the Act, the Land Rights movement sees this as an
area for further negotiation.
The Native Title Act continues to be reviewed in relation to its perceived
shortcomings and this has assisted the objectives of the movement.
Changes include a focus on traditional people and connection to the land and
coexistence, addressed in the Wik decision 1996. Indigenous peoples are
now members of the bodies created and possess legal authority to manage
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land rights claims, recognising the importance of inclusion in the decision


making process. Native Title legislation, following on from Mabo and Wik, has
seen significant steps forward. Although important, there is still much to be
achieved.

3.8Wik
It conferred some protection over native title rights by ruling that pastoral
leases did not extinguish native title, and that the two can exist side by side.
This has given Aboriginal people access to their traditional lands, even if they
coincide with pastoral leases.

The Wik Decision seeks to have the aboriginal land returned, so their
religious and cultural integrity is preserved. Allowing the people to
reconnect to their belief system.

1993-1996
Wik
1996 Wik decision by the High Court of Australia. This was another landmark
in the history of Aboriginal land rights. After the Mabo case it was believed
that pastoral leases extinguished Native Title. The Wik decision highlighted
that it was possible for Native Title and some types of pastoral leases to coexist. Each state however and each case would have to be reviewed on its
own merits. The Wik decision does not mean all other similar claims will be
successful.

3.910 point plan


Prime Minister John Howard introduced his ten-point plan to put the Wik
ruling into practiceone of the proposals was a drastic curtailment of the
rights of Indigenous peoples to negotiate.

3.10

SAMPLE RESPONSE:

3.10.1
Outline the importance of the "Mabo Judgement" and the
"Wik Decision" for the Land Rights Movement.
The Land Rights Movement is an ongoing Religio-Political movement which
began at the end of the 20 th century, when indigenous and non-indigenous
Australians protested to restore the legislation of land for the indigenous
which was removed at first white settlement by Terra Nullius The land
rights movement began with Vincent Lingiari, in 1975, he successfully helped
pass land rights legislation under the Whitlam Labor Government giving
Aborigines specific parcels of land. In June 1992, Eddie Mabo and his clan
sought to gain full rights of ownership of their land. After a series of legal
events terra-nullius, was overthrown. Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders
were finally recognised as the traditional custodians of the land. Native Title
Act 1993, gave Indigenous Australians the ability to claim land rights over
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traditional areas which their kinship group owned in the past e.g. Cape York
Peninsula. This gave further acknowledgement to Indigenous Australians as
the first owners of Australias land. The Wik decision of 1996 stated native
title could co-exist with other rights through a pastoral lease. This made it is
easier for Indigenous Australians to continue land right claims in the Federal
Court. These were crucial to the land rights movement as it acknowledges
the inextricable bond between the Indigenous peoples and their land. The
land is central within their lives physically, economically, socially and
ultimately, in a spiritual sense. If the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders
are dispossessed from their land they destroy a core facet of their spiritual
existence; the obligations to the land as expressed in the Dreaming.

4 Analyse the importance of the


Dreaming for the Land Rights
movement
The dreaming is inextricably connected to the land, therefore it is the driving
force of the land rights movement. Land is at the heart of the dreaming and
hence how Aboriginal people comprehend the world. The land is a source of
spirituality and an abundance of resources, without land rights the Aboriginal
people had no access to economic and social independence.

5 Changing Religious patterns using


census data
Christianity
Total %
Largest
denomination
Fastest growing
Fastest Declining

1947
87
Anglican- 39%

2011
61
Catholic- 25%
Baptist- 11%
Uniting- -6%

Why?
Majority of the
first settlers in
Australia were
from England
and Ireland,
meaning they
were Anglican or
Catholic. Now
Australia is more
multicultural,
thus more
diverse.

o The largest to smallest denominations: Christianity, Buddhism,


Islam, Hinduism, Judaism
o The fastest growing religious tradition: Hinduism
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o 1971- census introduced no religion which led to a dramatic


increase
o The most stable/consistent tradition: Judaism
o The second largest religious affiliation: no religion
o No Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam till the 1970s
o In 2011 (most recent census), the largest Christian denomination
was Catholicism, whilst the smallest was the Churches of Christ.
The biggest increase was the Baptist. The largest non-Christian
denomination was Buddhism, the smallest Judaism and the
biggest increase was Hinduism. The non-religion sector was 22%
o In 2001 (In 21st century), the largest Christian denomination was
Catholicism, whilst the smallest was the Churches of Christ. The
largest non-Christian denomination was Buddhism, the smallest
Judaism. The non-religion sector was 16%
o In 1971 (first no religion census), the largest Christian
denomination was Anglicanism, whilst the smallest was the
Salvation Army. The largest non-Christian denomination was
Judaism, the smallest Islam. The non-religion sector was 7%
o In 1947 (the oldest census), the largest Christian denomination
was Anglican, whilst the smallest was the Orthodox. The largest
non-Christian denomination was Judaism, the smallest Hinduism.
The non-religion sector was 0.3%

6 Account for why data is like above


6.1Christianity as the major religious tradition
Christianity has always been Australias major religious tradition due to the
European settlers establishing their predominantly Christian churches and
their policies enforced, such as the Whites Australia Policy, which converted
indigenous Australians and did not accept people of other traditions into the
nation. Christianity is adhered by 60% of the religious landscape this
amounts to more the 80x larger than all other religions combined and nearly
24% greater than the 2nd largest religion Buddhism. Event through
Christianity is the major tradition practiced in Australia, there has been
approximately a 22% decrease in the last decade reflecting the collective
dissatisfaction with traditional religious movements, an aging membership
(people between 18-24 are most likely to state no religion) and a lack of
migrant intake.

6.2Immigration
The introduction of other world religions to Australia, through the process of
immigration coherently introduced new cultures, values and beliefs.
Following WWII there was a significant increase in the diversity of the
religious profile in Australia. Many European refuges sought to start a new
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life in Australia because they were attracted to the nations safer and more
secure environment. Further overseas wars and persecutions led to waves of
migrants from Vietnam, Lebanon and Bosnia (just to name a few).
Immigration accounted for multifaith Australian society, 2/3 of Australias
Muslim community was born abroad and in recent years increased in
Buddhism, the result of immigration from Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and
China. A significant number of Jews have also migrated from a variety of
European nations and Hindu figures have increased due to immigration from
India and Fiji. The significant number of migrants have diversified the
religious landscape of Australia.

6.3Denominational switching
Denominational
switching
is
movement
between
Christian
denominations, which can be one or two way. It is usually associated with
Protestant Christianity more than Catholic or Orthodox Christianity and is
also more evident in younger churchgoers.
This trend is mostly evident in the Pentecostal church, where younger people
seek to address needs and when they are no longer met they leave. Factors
which aacount for feeling the need to switch include denomination can be
liking the minister, style of worship and music, proximity to home, sense of
community and additional activities such as prayer groups, bible studies and
youth groups. Catholic and orthodox variants are less common to follow this
trend.

6.4Rise of new age religions


New Age Philosophies are those practices which foster a sense of
individual improvement and fulfilment independent of an organised system
of belief. They may be practiced or embraced independently or alongside
other religious practices.
New age religions is an umberella term for a variety of alternative groups
that people are attracting to because of their unique practices adopted from
eastern elements, subsequent rejection of western views and the fact that it
favours creation centered spirituality. Some of the new age religions include
Thai Chi, Tarrot cards, Wicca, Feng Shui and numerology. The evidence for
new age religions is the places such as Yoga Remedy in Bexley, where
supposable Yoga must be made to suit the individual, not the individual to
suit the yoga

6.5Secularism
Secularism is a worldview that explains existence without reference to
religion. Australia has always had a somewhat secular dimension in
comparison to other western nations and is becoming an increasingly
secularised country.
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It is made apparent in McCrindles Church Life survey that over the last 40
years, no religion has dramatically increased to a massive 269%. This shows
how the Australian society is becoming much more secular. This is also seen
in the decreasing church attendance, throughout many Christian
denominations.
6.5.1 SAMPLE RESPONSE: For some Australians, God is no longer
important. Religion does not seem attractive as the country is
becoming increasingly secular. With reference to the
statement, account for the current religious landscape in
Australia.
The quotation draws links between the rise of materialism and the
increasingly secularist nature of Australian society. The statement reflects
trends revealed in current census data about Australias religious landscape.
In particular, the no religion category has shown a steady increase from
15.5% in 2001 to 22.3% in 2011. However, despite this increase,
identification with a religious tradition continues to be a dominant
characteristic of contemporary Australian society exceeding two-thirds of
the population in the 2011 census. Immigration is providing a greater
religious diversity in Australia, particularly with the increasing number of
Buddhists and Hindus. The main Christian churches (excluding the
Pentecostals) have experienced a significant decline in church attendance as
reflected in recent National Church Life Survey data. Hence, as the quotation
infers, Australias religious landscape has undergone significant change in
recent years and data validates this conclusion.

7 Christian Ecumenical Movements


Ecumenism is the movement towards unity among the variants within the
Christian tradition. Ecumenism is achieved by acknowledging that the unity
in Christ outweighs diversity in practice and beliefs, leading Christians to
work, worship and dialogues together.

7.1The National Council of Churches


The National Council of Churches of Australia was formed in 1994. It has
grown and is now compromised of 19 member churches representing the
Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox and Protestant expressions of Christianity. It
works in partnership with state ecumenical councils and it operates through
various commissions each which deals with a specific sphere of influence.
FOR EXAMPLE: NATSIEC: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Commission of NCCA. Advocacy for indigenous Australians recently letter
writing campaign in response to Government intervention program in the NT.

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7.2NSW Ecumenical Council


The NSW Ecumenical Council now called Churches Together NSW ACT is a
fellowship of 16 Protestant and Orthodox churches in the state of New South
Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Its ecumenical endeavor is about
churches working together in mission. This mission has three foundations:
-

maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace [Ephesians


4: 3],
being committed to the Gospel and to
proclaiming it together, and living out the implications of the Gospel for
service in the world

FOR EXAMPLE: Peace and Justice Commission: Works to enhance outcomes


from asylum seekers. Peacemaking: Prayer for International Day of Peace 21
September

7.3SAMPLE RESPONSES
7.3.1 Explain the role of the ecumenical movement and/or interfaith
dialogue as religious responses to growing secularism. Include
examples in your answer.
Australia is a country of diversity. Interfaith dialogue and the ecumenical
movement have acted as links between a more secular society and those
who adhere to religious beliefs. Interfaith dialogue has allowed for a greater
degree of cooperation and understanding between followers of different
traditions, as well as linking non-religious events with faith events eg Anzac
services, multicultural tolerance, social justice initiatives. The ecumenical
movement provides greater sharing and recognition of similarities between
Christian denominations. Increased tolerance is an outcome. Both
movements provide opportunities for faith to be more transparent to the
non-religious sector of Australian society. Interfaith dialogue provides
opportunities for the wider engagement of religion with the wider Australian
community.

8 The importance of interfaith dialogue


in multi-faith Australia
Interfaith dialogue is the formal discussion between religious traditions,
aimed at generating a mutual understanding between different religions. It
respects that all religions are the different and allows a greater appreciation
of the uniqueness of each tradition. From the discussions, common ground is
established between the groups, through building such relationships different
religions may choose to work together on common projects or running
interfaith prayer services and standing publicly united on significant issues.
Australia is increasingly a pluralistic and secular society in the sense that it is
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multicultural and multi-faith. Interfaith dialogue creates respect and


appreciation for religious diversity which is essential for harmony and peace.
Prejudice between religions has been created throughout the course of
historical conflicts, which if not addressed, has the potential to divide the
Australian community. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, the
Muslim community has been subjected to suspicion and persecution.
Interfaith dialogue has been an important method of working to break down
the stigma on Muslim adherents. Interfaith dialogue provides a platform for
religions to stand together in proclaiming the importance of faith, spirituality
and transcendent aspects of life.
FOR EXAMPLE: Columbian mission institute- Dinner Discussions which are
aimed at young adults from different religions to discuss their values.
Significant as young adults are becoming more secular, this overcomes
tensions and barriers placed be the media in the younger generations.
Mutual respect between religions
Another example of a one of occasion is the interfaith prayer service at St
Marys Cathedral after the Lindt Caf Siege. In spite of evidence of increasing
secularism, there is also yearning for religious support. Muslims, Jews,
Christians and Hindus (Archbishop and Grand Mufti) all came together in
peace and respect each others differences

9 Reconciliation
Reconciliation is the multilayered commitment to improving relationships
between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-indigenous
Australian citizens through understanding, sharing and respecting aspects of
culture and belief systems. It aims to create a united Australia, which
respects and understands traditional Aboriginal Culture.
The Anglican Church of Australia expressed its support for reconciliation at
the 1998 General Synod and has encourages a number of enterprises
designed to facilitate the process. Some of which include a request for
improved health outcome, funding commitment to the indigenous ministries
and knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal Spirituality. The Anglican
Church also participates in the Week of Prayer for Reconciliation.
The church provides funding (along with the Uniting Church and the World
Council of Churches) and support for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC). NATSIEC, whose indigenous
members represent a cross section of Christian churches, provides a forum to
give Aboriginal Australians a voice on issues pertaining to faith, mission and
evangelism. Its mission statement claim that its role is also to help rebuild
self-esteem, pride and dignity within indigenous communities. NATSIEC also
functions as an advisory group to the National Council of Churches (NCCA)
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The Catholic Church in Australia actively works in advocacy role to dismantle


social structures that are the source of injustice towards the Aboriginal
community. The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, made a dramatic
gesture of support for reconciliation when Pope John Paul II visited Alice
Springs in 1986 and made the statement there is a need for a just and
proper settlement that still lies unachieved in Australia. Since then the
Roman Catholic Church has made many positive moves towards the
reconciliation process. For instance in 1998 it joined with other churches to
issue a statement called Towards Reconciliation in Australian SocietyReconciliation and Aboriginal Australians, arguing for a settlement of the
differences in equality between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
The Jewish community has also played a very prominent role in Aboriginal
Reconciliation. This is seen in The Australian Jewish Democratic Society
(AJDS), formed in 1984. AJDS has made ongoing commitments to promote
and build better relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous
Australians. The aim for AJDS is to support reconciliation of Indigenous
Australians by advocating land rights for local Aboriginal Australians.
AJDS has been supportive of Indigenous rights such as the forum on
Aboriginal Reconciliation, which was co-organized by AJDS and featured the
Chairman of the Cape York Land Council, Noel Pearson. Pearson spoke on the
Wik Judgement and the government response and appealed to the Jewish
community to publicly support Indigenous rights. In response to this, Pearson
urged Jews to sign a petition calling on the federal government to not
extinguish native title on land subject to joint title. Following this forum, AJDS
successfully sponsored a motion at the Jewish Community Council of Victoria
condemning the Native Title Amendment Bill 1997 as discriminating against
Indigenous native title holders. This was a significant movement, as AJDs
9.1.1 SAMPLE RESPONSE: How have religious traditions in Australia
given support to the process of Aboriginal reconciliation?
Religious traditions in Australia have given strong support to the process of
reconciliation. The traditions recognised that this process must include an
understanding and valuing of Aboriginal culture as well as ensuring that
programs and strategies to be put in place work towards justice and equity.
The Anglican Church of Australia provides funding and support for the
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission
(NATSIEC). NATSIEC provides a forum to give Aboriginal Australians a voice
on issues pertaining to faith, mission and evangelism. Its mission statement
claim that its role is also to help rebuild self-esteem, pride and dignity within
indigenous communities. This is important to Aboriginal Spirituality as it
begins the process of healing and helps Indigenous communities begin to
regain connections with Kinship. The Roman Catholic Church, made a
dramatic gesture of support for reconciliation when Pope John Paul II visited
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Alice Springs in 1986 and made the statement there is a need for a just and
proper settlement that still lies unachieved in Australia. Since then the
Roman Catholic Church has made many positive moves towards the
reconciliation process. For instance in 1998 it joined with other churches to
issue a statement called Towards Reconciliation in Australian SocietyReconciliation and Aboriginal Australians, arguing for a settlement of the
differences in equality between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
This is important to Aboriginal Spirituality as it shows that non-indigenous
Australians are now acknowledging and beginning to understand the
Aboriginal culture.
The Jewish community has also played a very prominent role in Aboriginal
Reconciliation. This is seen in The Australian Jewish Democratic Society
(AJDS), formed in 1984. AJDS has made ongoing commitments to promote
and build better relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous
Australians. The aim for AJDS is to support reconciliation of Indigenous
Australians by advocating land rights for local Aboriginal Australians. This is
important as it shows that the Jewish community are trying to help the
Aboriginals regain their rights to the land, in order to try and regain their
spirituality.

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