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Monday, 15 April 2013 16:26

A call to prayer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

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Thank you for the support given to the Gove Case, the subject of February Pathways. Following is an extract from the thank you letter received. You will notice that it may take 6 months or more before a decision is handed down.  

We are writing to express our gratitude for your support of the Dhurili Nations court hearing that took place last week in the Federal Court of Australia.

Due to health problems, Dr Gondarra was unable to attend the hearing but Senior Elder Richard Batumang from Galiwin’ku was present throughout the court proceedings. 

We are advised that it may take six months or more for a decision to be handed down and so we will need to be very patient. As you are aware the case focused on the request for an administrative review of the decision to renew the lease of land to Rio Tinto at Gove.

The actual extent of Dr Gondarra’s interest in the land is not an issue before the Court.  Rather, the Court is being asked to consider whether the decisions of the Minister were reasonable on the basis of the information before her including what Dr Gondarra claimed was his interest in the land.

David Bennett QC presented the case as to the Minister’s failure to comply with her statutory obligations under the Land Rights Act to consult with Aboriginal persons interested in the land. Other senior barristers represented the Minister, the Northern Land Council and Rio Tinto. The case now rests with Justice Susan Kenny to consider her decision.

We should be aware that even if this case were to be won on the point of needing to consult, there is still the possibility that the Judge may nevertheless decide not to set aside the lease and the agreement.  The Judge has a discretionary role in the relief she grants, so even if we are successful on the important point of consultation, she might not be convinced to also set aside the lease and agreement.

With regards to donations received, if once all the on-costs have been paid, there are any remaining funds, they will be held in the trust account until we find out whether there is any likelihood of an appeal from either side.

We are especially grateful to you for your understanding and support without which this case could not have been pursued.  We now rely on prayer.

All involved were very grateful for the generous donation made by the Sisters of Charity.

Please note Michele’s words, “We now rely on prayer”.  

Let us respond to the call to pray.  Following is a suggested Prayer.  Could we commit ourselves, individually and in community, to pray often for justice for the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples of Australia.

Prayer

Leader: We acknowledge and pay respect to the original and ongoing owners and custodians of this land Australia, in which we live.  

All: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have occupied and cared for this country over countless generations. We celebrate their continuing contribution to the life of this land.

We commit ourselves to actively walk alongside our Indigenous sisters and brothers on the journey of healing towards reconciliation and justice.

Leader: Praise to you, Creator God, for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia.

Let us pray:

1. God of many names and peoples, in Christ you reveal your desire to bring the good news to the poor and peace and salvation to all people.

2. Open our ears to your transforming word and move our hearts by the strength of your love, so that with courage we may proclaim your prophetic word and complete the work that you have set before us. 

3. Open our eyes that we may see the beauty of each person, nation and culture.

4. Open our hearts that we may recognise the gifts that are present in the variety of our differences.

5. Open our mouths to be a voice for those who suffer in silence. Open our minds to recognise all for whom you came, Jesus Christ.

6. Help us to cross the boundaries of our fears and our prejudices. Unite us and restore peace in our world.

7. Bless us so that we only see each other as you have already seen us.

8. Grant us the courage to make the necessary changes in ourselves and to invite change in others.

All: We pray this in the name of Jesus the Christ.   Amen.

(Photo of Uncle Greg Walden by Giselle Lapitan)