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'Mail' Newspaper Articles

Focal Point for publishing-25/05/04

Reconciliation 2004: Is it working?

I've been hunting around trying to find out what's happening for Reconciliation Week and Sorry Day on the 26th of May. Much to my disappointment I found that news of reconciliation activities between the original Australian Aboriginal people and those of us who have come to Australia since, is very thin. A search of the Shire's website and the ATSIC website offers very little. That's not to say that there is nothing happening. In general though, it seems that the train is running out of steam and needs the fire re-stoked. Of course the need for our society to be reconciled does not lie exclusively in the realms of black and white. The media is full of the devastating stories of unreconciled peoples and nations. The two most obvious being Iraq, and the Middle East. Some may argue that these conflicts are about world domination and control of the world's oil, but there is also the root of an unreconciled state between two former brother peoples, the Arabs and the Jews. But we don't have to go overseas to see some of the racial or group hatred at work since we are currently experiencing the phenomena called the 'gangland' killings. So - we know all this - what do we do? I am reminded that when we forgive someone for a wrong doing, we have to live by the code that we will not bring that wrongdoing to the surface again. That doesn't mean that we can forget the hurt caused, but we can chose to live in the newfound freedom we create. Two questions that dog reconciliation between black and white Australians are: From the white: If we ask and receive forgiveness for past mal-treatment of Aboriginals, can we walk forward in the freedom of that foregiveness? And from the black: If we forgive you, can we trust you not to oppress again? It's really about risk and trust. In relationship counselling, the same principals apply - it is risky to trust again when you've been hurt before. Trust takes time to rebuild, and there needs to be a way to measure that re-building. You can't love and be reconciled to the one you don't trust. Ray Minniecon, an Aboriginal Christian minister and theologian said: "For almost two hundred years we were locked away from the new Australia that was built on our lands without our input by these systems".(A market based economy and a value system based on money) "And it has only been in the past 40 years (remember 1967) that we have rightly been given the opportunity to discover what the new builders have done with our country and our people". So the building of trust will take time. In the meantime let's continue to work towards reconciliation (a coming together to find common and comfortable ground), remembering that whoever we are and from whatever race or family group or relationship we come, their will be conflict to overcome - it's part of our nature as people!. 

If you'd like to have your say write to me at PO Box 189 Blackburn Vic 3130 
You are welcome to visit our website www.focalpoint.org.au to read more on these issues.

Graeme Dawson 
Co-ordinator Focal Point
0409 517273


Focal Point Yarra Valley 2009