From the heart… to healing and hope…
This Sunday supporters of Mary Ward International Australia are gathering for a special brunch at the Melbourne Museum to hear about one of MWIA’s newest projects aimed at providing hope to the community in Bourke, New South Wales. Here the Chair of MWIA, Sr Libby Rogerson provides context for Loreto’s support of this life-affirming project:
The Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia reflected in their Uluru Statement from the Heart on the alienation of their people, the incarceration of their young and the torment of our powerlessness. They asked the Australian people to give the First Nation’s people a Voice in the Constitution, not a third chamber but an enshrined recognition of their role as the first people with a rich and deep cultural history, a particular relationship with the land and a desire to take a rightful place in society.
Given that this is the first time a majority of Indigenous Australians have come together and voiced, so succinctly and powerfully, their hearts’ desire for recognition and change, the Government’s immediate dismissal of their request is hard to fathom. False assertions, current attempts to water down what was requested and a seeming unwillingness to sit down and really listen to what our First Nation’s people are asking, again leaves Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the cusp of hopelessness and failure.
In response to this sense of hopelessness and pain some Aboriginal men approached Catholic Care in Bourke to help them confront their traumas and break the cycle that is crippling them and the community around them. In consultation with the men Catholic Care proposed a Men’s Centre to provide a dedicated space for local Aboriginal men and youth. A place to bring to life a vision of hope and healing, generating a positive ripple effect on their families and community. With funding and support from Mary Ward International Australia the Centre will open weekly providing peer support, parent programs, behaviour management groups, mentoring for young men, wood and metal workshops and a range of cultural activities. It is hoped the Centre will benefit at least 100 men and youth, and indirectly their partners, families and community.
While our Government prevaricates, Minister Wyatt searches for new pathways and various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups grapple with yet more barriers to recognition and reconciliation it helps to know that all over Australia there are organisations of Indigenous and white Australians holding on to hope while working together to respond to the needs of their communities.
Libby Rogerson ibvm
Chair, Mary Ward International Australia
Loreto Justice Network member