Village Uniting Church minister Cameron McAdam has discovered the path of reconciliation doesn’t have to take you very far.
Inspired by a quote by a Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress leader, Cameron and Village UC member Campbell Opie began researching how his congregation could engage with the First Peoples on the peninsula.
To their surprise, they found the Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association “just down the road”.
Cameron and Campbell organised a small delegation from the church to visit Willum Warrain last year and since then the relationship has blossomed.
“People are amazed at the story of Willum Warrain and hearing about the culture and spirituality,” Campbell said.
“Many of our people have been supporting Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory but not known they had a group of Aboriginals on their doorstep.”
The quote that began it all was related to Cameron by former Moderator Sharon Hollis, who said UAICC state director Ken Sumner stated: “you white fellas are so frightened of saying the wrong thing to us that you don’t say anything at all”.
Executive Officer of Willum Warrain and Nughi man Peter Aldenhoven said the move by Village UC to start a conversation was warmly welcomed.
“With Aboriginal people it’s all about relationships, you have to spend time mixing with a mob to get to know people and Campbell and Cameron have certainly done that,” he said.
Village UC members regularly attend events such as the Reconciliation Sunday march, which was on 26 May.
On Sunday, 15 September, Village UC will host a collaborative Treaty Conversation Event aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of the proposed Victorian Treaty.
Invited speakers include Cameron, Victorian Treaty Advancement Officer Jill Gallagher, Reconciliation Victoria CEO Diana David and representatives from Willum Warrain and Bunurong Land Council.
Australia is the only former British colony that doesn’t have a treaty with its Indigenous people, which, according to Peter, “is to our collective shame”.
“But now we have an opportunity for a modern, contemporary Treaty,” he said
“We have an opportunity as a nation to get to a compromise that reflects a modern Australia that includes its First Australians as well as settler Australians.”
The theme of NAIDOC Week, which ends on 14 July, is Voice. Treaty. Truth. – Let’s work together for shared future.