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First Peoples

The Uniting Church in Australia acknowledges we live and work on Aboriginal land. In 2010, we became the first church in Australia to constitutionally acknowledge Aboriginal and Islander people as the First Peoples of Australia.

The following is taken from the preamble to the Church’s constitution, adopted in 2009. It reflects our remorse for past mistakes and commitment to reconciliation with Australia’s First Peoples .

“As the Church believes God guided it into union so it believes that God is calling it to continually seek a renewal of its life as a community of First Peoples and of Second Peoples from many lands, and as part of that to:

RECOGNISE

  • When the churches that formed the Uniting Church arrived in Australia as part of the process of colonisation they entered a land that had been created and sustained by the Triune God they knew in Jesus Christ.
  • Through this land God had nurtured and sustained the First Peoples of this country, the Aboriginal and Islander peoples, who continue to understand themselves to be the traditional owners and custodians (meaning ‘sovereign’ in the languages of the First Peoples) of these lands and waters since time immemorial.
  • Some members of the uniting churches approached the First Peoples with good intentions, standing with them in the name of justice; considering their well-being, culture and language as the churches proclaimed the reconciling purpose of the Triune God found in the good news about Jesus Christ.
  • Many in the uniting churches, however, shared the values and relationships of the emerging colonial society including paternalism and racism towards the First Peoples. They were complicit in the injustice that resulted in many of the First Peoples being dispossessed from their land, their language, their culture and spirituality, becoming strangers in their own land.
  • The uniting churches were largely silent as the dominant culture of Australia constructed and propagated a distorted version of history that denied this land was occupied, utilised, cultivated and harvested by these First Peoples who also had complex systems of trade and interrelationships. As a result of this denial, relationships were broken and the very integrity of the Gospel proclaimed by the churches was diminished.
  • From the beginning of colonisation the First Peoples challenged their dispossession and the denial of their proper place in this land. In time this was taken up in the community, in the courts, in the parliaments, in the way history was recorded and told, and in the Uniting Church in Australia.”


Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress

A key component of our justice work is to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians together and to support the Indigenous community generally. We do this primarily through the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.

Formed in 1985 by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of the church, the UAICC has the authority to make decisions in all matters relating to ministry with Aboriginal and Islander peoples.

In 1988, the UAICC invited UCA members to join in a solemn act of covenanting before God and the invitation was accepted by the UCA Assembly in 1994.

Our Synod has two congresses, Victoria and Tasmania. Each state also has its own cultural hub, Narana in Geelong and Leprena in Glenorchy, Tasmania.

Narana

Narana is a not-for-profit organisation offering authentic and immersive cultural experiences.

It helps facilitate reconciliation between First and Second Peoples by developing a better understanding of culture through community connections.

Celebrating the world’s oldest living culture, Australia’s shared heritage and dual responsibilities, Narana encourages reconciliation and respect of culture through helping to create positive models for engagement and important dialogue around issues of National Reconciliation.

The word “Narana” means to deeply listen and understand, in which you give and receive. This concept underpins Narana’s mission to be an inclusive destination for cultural and tourism education and activities.

Narana is at 410 Surf Coast Hwy, Grovedale. For more information, click here.

Leprena

Leprena’s mission is to be the lead provider of cultural and spiritual learning and immersion, uniting First and Second Peoples through Tasmanian Aboriginal culture, and the National UAICC story, across the nation.

Home of UAICC lutruwita/Tasmania, Leprena promotes a shared learning and unlearning between First and Second Peoples and provides projects and programs in a culturally and spiritually-safe space by facilitating gatherings centred on cultural, emotional and social wellness.

Leprena also provides training to church communities, not-for-profits, government and non-government organisations and educational groups.

Leprena is at 280 Main Rd, Glenorchy. For more information, phone 03 6272 9234, email here or visit our Facebook page.

 


 

Download a copy of the UCA’s constitution

Download Acknowledgement of Country posters in various languages