Multifaith Advisory Group (MAG) Dinner – ‘Connecting with Country, Reconnecting with Ourselves’

CSSV is a member group of the Multi-faith Advisory Group (MAG), part of the Victorian Multicultural Commission. MAG recently held a wonderful dinner following NAIDOC Week entitled ‘Connecting with Country, Reconnecting with Ourselves’ on 13 July 2022 at Melbourne Town Hall. CSSV Senior Policy Advisor Gordon Preece filled in for Executive Director Josh Lourensz. Anglican Bishop Philip Huggins as MC set the scene sharing a series of questions and observations.

“What have we learned about repairing relationships and reconciling?”

He cited an Indigenous Elder who said that “we must ourselves be the reconciliation we seek.”

Reconciliation is always complex but we all have to take what initiative we can. Lest as Rev’d Dr Martin Luther King warned us, we suffer from “the paralysis of analysis”. That is, “after listening carefully, imagining together a better future and taking action in that direction. As we seek to do tonight.”

The History in a place matters.

Culture is shaped by the history of relationships in a place, a concept CSSV is strongly committed to. What has happened needs to be known, if relationships and culture are going to be healthier. If the previous history remains unreconciled, trust will need repair.

Building trust starts with listening carefully and discussing. Then doing what is asked.

Reconciliation can face perplexing resistances.

Through a persistent pattern of damage, people can become habituated to alienation from each other as “us and “them”. As well as clearly malevolent acts, many mistakes of apparently well intended people are also part of the history! Managing these mistakes together is crucial to sustained reconciliation.

Reconciliation can seem quite elusive – a future we never quite reach.

All we can do is to keep creating meeting places to listen well, taking every opportunity to deepen relationships and to create real friendships. Friendship is the key. The warmth and the trust of genuine friendship helps us create a just peace for everyone. The friendships between members of our MAG have been and are crucial to our multi-faith harmony in Victoria.

Tonight, we hope and pray to enhance and expand our circle of friends. The much loved and respected Uncle Herb Patton facilitated that by giving an Acknowledgment of Country.

An address was given by Helen Summers in honour of Aunty Joy Murphy in absentia due to illness. There was bipartisan political representation in reconciliation by Bruce Atkinson (Liberal) and indigenous woman Sheena Watt, Parliamentary Secretary for Housing.

Then Sue-Anne Hunter, Deputy Yoorrook Justice Commissioner and our main speaker, reminded us of the hard-won indigenous consensus Statement from the Heart seeking an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. With a new federal government there is new energy towards enacting this, hopefully in 2023. The MAG meeting was a small but significant learning step towards a just reconciliation.

Photos courtesy Victorian Multicultural Commission

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