News Sandy's Comments

Redressing Harm

(first 3 paragraphs and quotes are from an article published on World Council of Churches, 18th April 2024)

On 15 April, faith-based and civil society organizations came together to engage with the theme of the third session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent and its implications for the work of religious organizations working with and for People of African Descent.

The recommendations centered on what states and other actors can do to redress the historic exploitation and harms that Africans and people of African descent have suffered.

Adele Halliday, Anti-Racism and Equity lead for The United Church of Canada, urged participants, most of whom represented churches or faith-based organizations, to

approach the discussions with the full knowledge that faith institutions and actors were complicit in or legitimized racism.

Rev Dr Jermaine Ross-Allam, director of the Center for the Repair of Historic Harms of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, Presbyterian Church (USA), reflecting on Acts 2 suggested that

the result of divine grace is economic or wealth redistribution for a harmonious community in which everyone’s needs are met.

While Australian Churches are not part of that particular discussion regarding the impact of colonisation on Africa, the one before us right now is not dissimilar – our relationship with First Peoples, and the impact of colonisation on the First Peoples.

The Yoorrook Justice Commission in Victoria is implementing the first formal truth-telling process into historical and ongoing injustices committed against First Peoples in Victoria as a result of colonisation, across all areas of social, political and economic life. The Victorian Government has committed to working with the First People’s Assembly of Victoria for a truth and justice process.

For decades, First Peoples have fought for truth-telling, to recognise the impacts of colonisation and address historic and ongoing injustices. The work of the Yoorook Justice Commission is ongoing, and we can expect truth-telling will throw up many challenges as questions are explored.

Some of our Member Churches are already involved in preparing submissions and making presentations to the Commission and are committed to actively engage with the Commission as it proceeds with its work.