On Wednesday, 9 November, more than 300 people packed Wesley Uniting Church for the Victorian Council of Churches’ Christian Perspectives on Treaty, Sovereignty and Constitutional Recognition forum.
The evening focused on thoughtful and respectful dialogue on the path to Treaty with Australia’s First Peoples.
Noting the solemn mood – in the wake of news of Donald Trump’s election as U.S. President – forum emcee Rev Alistair Macrae led a moment of silence before the evening’s program commenced.
Keynote speakers included Rev Ken Sumner (State Director, Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress) and UCA President Stuart McMillan.
The conversation panel featured Wiradjuri man and artist Rev Glenn Loughrey, Mutthi Mutthi/ Wemba Wamba woman and former Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Melbourne co-ordinator Vicki Clark, Waka Waka descendant Brooke Prentis from the Salvation Army and Taungerong/Woi-Wurrung man Adam Frogley.
“When Australia has made over 2000 treaties that stand up in international arenas, why is it so hard to make a Treaty or treaties with Australia’s First Peoples?” asked Ms Prentis.
She spoke passionately of the need for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples to come together as equal partners.
Event organiser Jill Ruzbacky, from the synod’s Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit, said she was pleased with the evening’s outcome.
“It was fantastic to see over 300 people turn out on a Wednesday night for these really important conversations for us to be having within our churches,” she said.
Rev Glenn Loughrey is the priest-in-charge of St Oswald’s Anglican Church in Melbourne. He said the treaty process cannot be hurried if it is to be successful.
“As we work towards a Treaty we must do so with respect and a commitment to dialogue through deep listening. This is not to be rushed,” Mr Loughrey said.
“We have to give the process all the time it needs as the quality of the process will determine the depth and rightness of the treaty we receive.”