Dear Sisters and Brothers…greetings.
This follows Recognition News circulated 27 April 2016. A very BRIEF overview, we apologize that many people and events are not mentioned. Also, some may already have seen parts of this news.
Torres Strait and Cape York… When we wrote in April, our Recognition Team was preparing to take the Recognition at Botany Bay (R@BB) story to the north. We said then all signs indicated much blessing for vast numbers of people would come from that. Beginning on 9 May, God did bring that about. West Australian Kimberley man Rodney Rivers (a senior man of the Gooniyandi people) carried much of the leadership throughout the visit. It was Rodney’s presence that made it so effective.
We were privileged to meet with several community leaders on Thursday Island, including Fr Daltan Cowley and Luisa O’Connor. All were wonderfully welcoming and helpful. Thanks to our hosts, Pastors Titom and Michelle Tamwoy and several others who live at Bamaga, a great bonus happened when for THREE days we spent time with hundreds of delegates from EIGHTEEN communities who came from all over Torres Strait and Cape York to a conference they held at Bamaga.
We were taken to very significant sights where the most serious of crimes had been unleashed, and where memories of them have not faded. We were taken to Possession Island to the site where Lieutenant James Cook stood when he made a declaration that ‘took possession’ of a land he recorded as already inhabited.
There, on that very site Rodney and I had opportunity to speak a NEW DECLARATION over the land, a declaration that (without condemning anyone, past or present) spoke release from the impact and effects of any bondage that may have befallen anyone of any background as a result of a declaration that falsely described these lands as ‘land belonging to no one’.
Blessings continued. One day before departure home, a very gracious lady with a real presence throughout Torres Strait granted us an interview. Thinking we may have half an hour, imagine our surprise when some 2 ½ hours later we were still there, marvelling at what the future may hold in the aftermath of A National Act of Recognition at Botany Bay. On departure day – same thing! We had to do three R@BB presentations (off the back of an envelope) while waiting in the street for a bus and then a ferry to Horn Island airport. In other words, interest in Recognition at Botany Bay throughout Torres Strait and Cape York is immense. Rodney and I were flat chat right down to the wire!
Going forward… Our Recognition Leadership and Management Teams are delighted to report that, having spent all these years explaining aims and objectives of A National Act of Recognition in so many regions around Australia, we have at last spent quality time face to face with our northern and southern brothers and sisters. Our time in Torres Strait/Cape York in May, coupled with our visit to First Peoples in Tasmania in February/March, means we have in recent times significantly increased our presence Australia wide (see our up to date Map of Community Visits below).
Having reached that goal we set so long ago means that to some extent we need to begin operating in a different way. Thus a big priority for our teams in recent weeks, during this September Quarter and beyond, is consolidation. This means returning to places we have already been. Doing this follow up takes a lot of effort but is necessary as we prepare to bring Recognition at Botany Bay to completion.
Sydney Basin… Some of you may recall that in May last year Randwick City Council featured R@BB in their Reconciliation Week celebrations on Coogee Beach. Called Koojay Corroboree, our Sydney Team were invited to hold a stall on the park area above the beach.
As expected Council featured another group this year, however we were delighted that we were again invited to participate, and on 27 May we set up our stall amongst the others. We are grateful to Council, and especially to Aboriginal leaders like Gary Ella, who opened the way for this to happen.
On Thursday 23 June our Sydney Team was graciously given an opportunity to present the R@BB story to St Andrew’s Cathedral School in George Street, Sydney. We understand some 700 students and about 40 teaching staff were present as Reverend Craig Segaert of St Nicolas’ Anglican Church, Coogee and I briefly outlined this mission. Soon after the presentation some staff indicated they really benefited by the factual records from the HM Bark Endeavour Journals (the earliest records on the face of the earth). A few hours later the school captain-elect told me a number of students had come to him to say how much more clearly they now see the entire relationship issue in this country.
On Monday 4 July Gary Ella and I had a most productive meeting with Constitution Education Fund Australia (CEFA) located at Ultimo in the Sydney CBD. We were introduced to plans to open a Constitution Education Centre in Canberra. It will feature an Australian Constitution Exhibit in the High Court building.
Gary and I outlined the R@BB initiative CEFA staff. It was a joy for all of us to realize we are on a common journey. We agreed that education will be vital to resolving our deep seated issues.
Yet more opportunity for consolidation in the Eastern Suburbs region came on Tuesday 5 July with an invitation to share the platform with a number of speakers at the Anglicare NAIDOC Week function at St Nicolas’ Anglican Church, Coogee. It was good to meet with so many people from all backgrounds in the Eastern Suburbs and surrounds.
All the above is more significant than meets the eye. It has given our R@BB team opportunity to engage with the wider community in the Sydney Basin, and the Metropolitan and Eastern Suburbs areas in particular. This has allowed us to more fully establish the Recognition message throughout the region that is located right on site where A National Act of Recognition will be held – Botany Bay!
We will do our best to maximise this. We will work hard to consolidate our R@BB presence around Sydney by deepening relationships with First Peoples and wider community in the Metropolitan area, the Eastern and Southern suburbs, and in regions well to the south, west and north of Sydney.
NSW and ACT Basin… We are looking forward to increasing our time with First Peoples communities in those places we have already been to in the regions surrounding Eden, Canberra, Wagga, Dubbo, Bourke, Moree, Lismore and Tweed Heads. Some of this has recently happened. In April there was a wonderful opportunity to travel in a big arc around NSW, revisiting some of the communities, elders and leaders with whom we have consulted over the years. This was about keeping people informed and relationships strong.
Just in the past week there have been really productive times in Wiradjuri and Ngambri country sharing, listening and learning. We are looking forward to more of this during August and beyond.
Torres Strait and Cape York… As noted above, northern interest in the Recognition at Botany Bay concept is very strong. This may be in part because the James Cook events there were so significant, given that is where he took possession of these lands. As a result of such strong interest, on Monday 12 September a slightly larger Recognition Team will return there for a follow up visit, going to several more communities throughout Torres Strait and hopefully, Cape York Peninsula as well. We may be in the area for 10 days or so. Preparations are under way right now.
The foregoing shows a lot of consolidation is happening. A glance at the map indicates the personal, face to face relationship building we have done across Australia. We have achieved the goals we originally set and, as well as consolidation, need to turn to other strategies, such as the media, to enable us to reach the vast number of remaining communities.
Without saying how soon this will be done, we are now obliged to prepare for it.
We can only sustain the current effort, plus adopt additional strategies on top of that, with your help. If you would like to support this mission through prayer let us know and we can send you a Recognition Prayer Letter from time to time.
This mission is intended for the benefit of all Australians. We rely on public donations to fund it. We invite your gifts, either one – off or a regular amount. Electronic Transfer to our Recognition Fund with Bendigo Bank details are: BSB 633-000, Account No. 117495044. Cheques payable to A National Act of Recognition may be posted to our office at 10 Mirning Crescent, ARANDA ACT 2614.
If you would like to support this venture by offering your skills in ministry and/or management then we would like to talk to you. Please do give us a call for an obligation free conversation.
If you scroll down you can view the updated map. We hope it will help you feel a bit closer to the action.
We will try to keep you informed on our quest for justice and healing for our land and our people.
Grace and peace,
Reverend Lindsay McDowell
Chair A National Act of Recognition
Chair Southern Cross Ministries Australia
Recognition Leadership: Pastor Ossie Cruse Mr Tom Hallas Pastor Robyn Beezley Mr Rodney Rivers
National Coordinator: Southern Cross Ministries Australia Incorporated 10 Mirning Crescent ARANDA ACT 2614